Warhammer-esque movies

Every now and then a discussion about movies and Warhammer pops up on different forums and social media. It is usually quite interesting to follow such discussions since they tend to reveal a lot about the various ways people approach Warhammer and its various settings. Many prefer to have a clear plot with a little grimness added on but still with somewhat sympathetic characters that are heroes, be that of the dark or anti variety or not.

My own view is usually in a sort of minority since I prefer my Warhammer (Warhammer Fantasy, Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40k) to be as bleak and tormented as possible, not just dark but miserable and lonely. It could have something to do with the Finnishness, but I see Warhammer as very lonely settings, a place where the seething mass of humanity in the cyclopean hives have lost so much of their emotions that they fail to see each other. The lonesome man walking among cold stars, waiting to die without anyone to ever know he was there. This does perhaps not translate well into the mainstream of the Warhammer community, fortunately I have still managed to connect with some fellow souls.

In no particular order I would like to present a few movies I enjoyed watching and that in many ways feel very Warhammer to me.

Begotten (1990) by E. Elias Merhige

Image result for begotten
God Killing Himself

I’m not quite sure where to even begin describing the horror of Begotten. It is one of the most artsy films I have seen and it makes for some truly visceral viewing. The movie is primeval, almost antediluvian in its macabre and loose narrative. But what an experience it is. The terrifying visuals could easily be seen as the wasteland of a dying world in Warhammer 40,000’s dark millennium, a place where few humans still eke out an existence. In the same vein the movie’s Nativity play would fit into the Mortal Realms of Age of Sigmar, telling of how the future is born when the past has been devoured by entropy and Chaos. This movie was the greatest inspiration for my Outgard warband.

Child of Light

Begotten’s thematic sibling, Din of Celestial Birds, deserves an honorary mentions since the two movies goes hand in hand. Din of Celestial Birds has a more hopeful tone to it than Begotten, but misery in art should serve a function and hope might have a role to play.

Valhalla Rising (2009) by Nicolas Winding Refn

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Heathens make way for Christianity

The cold and unwelcoming landscape of Valhalla Rising really got to me. The mountains seem to loath the humanity that desperately tries to survive on their slopes. Humanity is trapped in an endless spiral of violence, towards their fellow men and towards themselves. Yet at the same time they all feel completely lost and alone. They fail to connect with each other and thus bring upon themselves their doom. Violence is never far away and often very intimate in its portrayal. As is only appropriate.

A Field in England (2013) by Ben Wheatley

The treasure hunt

An other almost existential movie about the bleakness of nature and it’s inherit hostility towards humanity. Experimental and psychedelic in the darkest sense it sees men abuse men to satisfy their greed. Madness, envy, fear and paranoia ensures as the lost souls stumbles toward their fate. A Field in England immediately gave me that certain Warhammer feel of a bleak setting, lost souls, strange and terrible happenings and a twisted end that leaves you unsettled.

Hard to be a God (2013) by Aleksei German

Don Rumata

Hard to be a God is such a unique vision that at first it might be difficult to compare it to any thing. Except for Warhammer. The movie is an insane mix of science fiction speculation, dark age superstition and a man’s growing rage and frustration with the limits placed upon him by an uncaring system. Deeply steeped in Stalinist allegory and acted with such fervor that it sometimes feel like a documentary. It is bizarre, wonderful and full on Warhammer.

Honorary mention

Blow Your Trumpets Gabriel (2013) by Behemoth

While this is a music video and not a movie I felt I had to include it on the list as an honorary mention. Utterly twisted, stark and terrifying. There is no way I could resist this dark imagery. I’m not a huge fan of black metal, mostly it is just too aggressive and guttural for my taste. But the videos and imagery is usually fascinating and enjoy the primal hate the best band manage to channel into art.

-Alexander Winberg-

13 thoughts on “Warhammer-esque movies”

  1. Wow, thanks to you and this post I am half way through “Begotten”. I wouldn’t say “enjoying” is the right word but I am absolutely fascinated by it. The soundtrack is in itself unnerving. I think we inherently look for likeable heroes etc because we always want to be positive. There’s always a happy ending but part of the appeal of warhammer, in my mind, is summed up in the slogan. In the grim darkness of the future there is only war. I love the idea that there is no world or place or love as we know it in our world.

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    1. Glad to hear you are watching it. It is a wonderful movie. Try watching it synched with Antichrist Superstar next.

      In 40k there are no heroes, only nightmares. There isn’t even a word for love like we see it. Love is only for the Emperor, so it is a form of slavery. But that is the subject of an other post I think.

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  2. Very fascinating, of these movies I have only seen Valhalla rising and that is both chilling and awesome… I hope to see some of the others some day. I think I share much of the same view on the Warhammer universes as you Alexander. I think the Riddick movies have a bit of a 40k feel to them, you just made me think of it. 😊

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    1. Judging by your miniatures I’d say so, you might be a little bit more punk than me. But similar souls indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s more in the humorous side, but I’ve already felt Plunkett and Macleane to capture the spirit of WFRP almost perfectly (okay, a little overpowered, but still really close)

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  4. Thank you! I’m looking forward to check these out!
    My personal idea of warhammer was always a bit lighter. When I started, bases were painted goblin green and warhammer 40k was a pretty colourful thing all in all. It was heavy metal -sure (without the sex), but also fun. Space-Orks had fun! So did Chaos. Humans didn’t, because they’re religousness went totally nuts -but that was funny in it’s own way, too. Warhammer -for me at least, is running on rocket-fuel like a bat out of hell! With Jim Burns sitting in the back seat, grinning while smuggeling scar face on the cover. So I’d recommend ”heavy metal” from 1981 to watch somewhere in between the movies listed here. Just for fun!

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    1. I agree that my own take is very bleak and grim and not something most will share. Orks and goblins have always been fun in a very brutal kind of way. I started back in the mid 90’s and it was as you say a colourful time. But now I’m more into the darker aspects.

      Heavy Metal is an interesting movie, some parts are very sloppy but the ideas are wild and as you say fun. Not really Warhammer-esque to me but to each their own.

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  5. I’d like to chip in with a two addtional movies with similar bleak sensibilities.

    Firstly The Name of the Rose, Jean-Jaques Annauds 1986 adaptation of Umberto Eco’s novel. It’s quintessential Warhammer, featuring a gothic medeival setting, monks, religious dogma, inquisitors, murder most foul and characters that look like they’re straight out of a John Blanche painting.

    Secondly, I whole heartedly recommend Robert Eggers 2015 flick The VVitch: A new England Folktale, which is largely based on real transcripts from 17th century witch trials. It features witches (duh), religious dogma (again – a staple of the warhammer universes), folk horror and a very persuasive goat.

    Some other movies in no particular order – and of extremely varying quality – that in some way may serve as inspiration for 40k or warhammer are:

    David Lynch’s Dune (1984)
    Verhoven’s Starship troopers (1997)
    Clive Barker’s Hellraiser I & II (1987 /1988)
    MJ Basset’s Solomon Kane (2009)
    Domic Sena’s Season of the Witch (2011, starring an unusually horrendous wig worn by Nick Cage)
    Judge Dredd and Dredd (1995 / 2012)
    Paul WS Andersson’s Event Horizon (1997)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You persuaded me to give the Name of the Rose a chance, I’ll let you know what I thought of it as soon as I finish it. I’ve heard good things about the Witch but alas I have yet to see it. Hopefully I will soon.

      On the rest I agree and disagree on some, but as we know we tend to see things abit differently. But good god that wig was bad 😮

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