Jannis Niewöhner in Hagen (2024)

‘Hagen’: Prague-shot medieval epic secures international distributor, reveals first look

The German-language medieval epic Hagen, which filmed in Prague and other locations around the Czech Republic last winter, has revealed its first images thanks to producer Constantin Film. The big-budget ($45 million, north of one billion crowns) production has been developed as both a six-episode miniseries as well as a feature film for cinemas, due for release in Germany later this fall.

Directed by Cyrill Boss and Philipp Stennert, whose previous credits include the Sky original Pagan Peak (Der Pass), Hagen has also been picked up for international distribution outside of German-speaking territories by Fremantle as it eyes wider release worldwide.

Hagen is based on the legendary Nibelungenlied, or The Song of the Nibelungs, a 12th century poem that has been inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. Formed from oral Germanic legends that have roots in real-life events in the 5th and 6th centuries, the story went on to influence folklore across Europe, from Scandinavian tales of vikings to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

The Nibelungenlied has been adapted for film numerous times, from Fritz Lang’s silent classic Die Nibelungen to a pair of fantasy films in the late 1960s featuring Herbert Lom and Terrence Hill, 2004’s Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King, starring Max von Sydow, and even a Bugs Bunny cartoon that parodies Wagner’s opera adaptation, Der Ring des Nibelungen.

Gijs Naber in Hagen (2024)
Gijs Naber in Hagen (2024)

Hagen focuses on the titular Hagen von Tronje, a tragic one-eyed warrior played by Gijs Naber. Jannis Niewöhner stars as his nemesis, the famed dragonslayer Siegfried von Xanten. The narrative also includes a young and inexperienced King Gunter (Dominic Marcus Singer), his daughter Kriemhild (Lilja van der Zwaag), and the dangerous Valkyrie Brunhild (Rosalinde Mynster).

Jördis Triebel, Jörg Hartmann, Bela Gabor Lenz, Alessandro Schuster, Johanna Kolberg, Emma Preisendanz, and Maria Erwolter also feature among Hagen‘s supporting cast. Directors Boss and Stennert wrote the script for Hagen with Doron Wisotzky, from Wolfgang Hohlbein’s novel.

“This is kind of an eternal story. It’s about a very interesting time in history when the narration is set, not when the Nibelungen saga was written down, but the original saga behind it, at the end of the fifth century,” Hagen producer Jan Ehlert tells Variety.

“It’s basically being conveyed, on a word-of-mouth basis, between people who constantly remodel it to be the greatest story ever told, and there’s everything in there: hope and fear, love and hate, and loyalty and betrayal. Everything that moves people’s hearts. So, we thought, why not just stick with the original.”

Rosalinde Mynster in Hagen (2024)
Rosalinde Mynster in Hagen (2024)

In Prague, production of Hagen took place at Barrandov Studio. Filming took place over the course of about six months from September of 2022 through early 2023, with Wilma Film coordinating the local shoot for Constantin Film and German broadcaster RTL.

Outside of the Czech capital, Hagen shot at numerous locations throughout Bohemia, including ares of Ústí nad Labem, Kutná Hora, the Točník Castle, Velká Amerika quarry, Kolín, Milovice, Jevany, Cvikov, Kestřany, Čestín, Týřovice, Sadská, Zálezlice, Hořín, and Obříství.

“What I really, really love is this dragon slayer character that came out of this saga, and we find later in books and TV shows like Game of Thrones, in all kinds of movies, from animation to Hollywood movies, the dragon slayer character is fascinating and comes back in all shapes and forms,” says Fremantle’s Jens Richter.

“Now we are going back to the original story. This is the first legend of a dragon slayer ever told, and to go back to that root, I find that is absolutely fascinating.”

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Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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