The Tree of Strife: A BBC Radio 4 Icelandic Saga full-cast dramatisation
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2 hours 52 minutes
An epic BBC historical drama based on Iceland's famous saga of tragedy, heroism and fate
Written by an anonymous storyteller in the 13th Century, and describing events between 960 and 1020, Njáls saga is one of the great works of medieval literature. The longest and most celebrated of the Icelandic sagas, it deals with family honour, vengeance, and a vicious blood feud spanning almost 50 years.
Based on the classic translation by Magnus Magnusson and Hermann Pálsson, this gripping dramatisation centres around two friends - the wise, learned Njal, and the brave warrior Gunnar. Gifted with the ability to see into the future, Njal can foretell his own death - but he is powerless to stunt the growth of the tree of strife that flourishes after Gunnar's betrothal to Hallgerd with the thief's eyes.
Embroiled in his wife's intrigues, Gunnar is caught in a cycle of killings and revenge - and as Njal's sons are drawn into this web of violence, tragedy ensues. Bound by ties of blood, and unable to escape their destiny, Gunnar, Njal, and their descendants seem doomed to an endless vendetta. Even the coming of a new faith, Christianity, fails to halt the conflict- and as brother turns upon brother, will peace ever be restored?
Adapted by veteran dramatist David Wade, this gripping tale vividly evokes Iceland's heroic age. Thronged with action, passion, power struggles and prophetic dreams, it features a host of vividly-drawn characters, and stars Bernard Hepton as Njal, Struan Rodger as Gunnar and Maureen O'Brien as Hallgerd.
Dramatised by David Wade from a translation by Magnus Magnusson and Herman Palsson
Music by David Chilton and Nick Russell-Pavier
Directed by Jeremy Mortimer
Narrators - Norman Rodway & Barbara Jefford
Njal Thorgeirsson - Bernard Hepton
Gunnar Hámundarson- Struan Rodger
Hallgerd Long-Legs- Maureen O'Brien
Ahdli/Thorgeir Otkelsson - Ian Targett
Bergthóra, Njal's wife - Maggie McCarthy
Unn - Anna Cropper
Skarphedin Njalsson - Robert Glenister
Helgi Njalsson/Otkel Skarfsson - Vincent Brimble
Greem Njalsson - Andrew Branch
Brynjolv/Hoskuld Dala-Kollsson/Gayrmund - John Bull
Hrut Herjolfsson/Ketill/Thorgeir - David King
Kolskegg Gunnarsson - David Goudge
Thord Freemansson/Hocni Gunnarsson - Paul Downing
Thrain Sigfusson - John Church
Mord Valgardsson - Shaun Prendegast
Valgard the Grey - John Moffatt
Hoskuld Thrainsson - Jonathan Tafler
Hildigunn - Victoria Carling
Sigmundt/Skammkel/Gudmund - Brian Millar
Skjold/Law Speaker - Donald Gee
Asgnmr Ellioa-Grimsson/Thorgeir - Alan Barker
Flosi Thordarson - Crawford Logan
Kari Solumndarson - Jimmy Yuill
Kawl/Bjorn the White/Melkov - Ken Cumberlidge
Thorgardh/Bjorn's wife - Alice Arnold
Halvard/Thorgeir Skorargeir- Joe Dunlop
Greeman - Drew Branch
With Sam Bennett, Simon Linnell, Joan Matheson, Danny Schiller and Joan Walker
First broadcast BBC Radio 3, 17-18 February 1990
© 2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P) 2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd
Fiction & Literature
Fairy Tales & Folklore
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The Tree of Strife: A BBC Radio 4...
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