Tag: Vikings

Film Review: The Northman

 

While not dispositive as to a movie’s quality, when talking about historical dramas it’s interesting to ask whether the film’s subjects would appreciate their on-screen portrayal. Rather than being a movie vikings would enjoy, The Northman is better described as a movie vikings would make. It is not a straight telling of the lives of northern Europeans during the Viking Age, but a tale molded by their aspirations, their ideals, and untouched by modern mores. In an early scene, our hero Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) raids a Slav village after which the surviving women and children are rounded up to be made slaves or hoarded into a shack and burned alive. This is not a world of universalist Christian morality. It is a world of honor, social rank, and birthright.

At the beginning of the film, young Amleth (Oscar Novak) is twelve, old enough to be initiated as a man and successor to his father King Aurvandill (Ethan Hawke). When his uncle Fjölnir (Claes Bang) kills Aurvandill, Amleth narrowly escapes the same fate and vows revenge. He is taken in by some passing vikings and raised to be a berserker. After the aforementioned raid, he gets wind that Fjölnir has been exiled to Iceland. He brands himself like a slave and boards a slaveship headed to Iceland. On the ship, he meets Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy) whose cunning will be of great help in exacting his vengeance.

A he-witch (Ingvar Sigurðsson) instructs him to obtain a magical sword. Amleth’s duel against the animated corpse guarding the sword is one that will go down in cinema history. It is not alone as far as rousing action scenes. With his previous two films, The Witch and The Lighthouse, director Robert Eggers built a reputation for ponderous movies that are near impenetrable for general audiences. The Northman, while an Eggers film to the bone, fares better chances with the moviegoing public. The action is visceral, expertly choreographed, and frequent enough to stave off boredom for more impatient viewers.

Join Jim and Greg as they unload on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for his horrific lack of leadership that paved the way to another night of looting and destruction in his city and his massive double standard on who can gather in public. They also react to the Democrats in Fairfax County, Virginia, retweeting a message saying “riots are an integral part of this country’s march toward progress.” And Jim has a surprising reaction as Clinton White House spokesman Joe Lockhart suggests the Minnesota Vikings should sign Colin Kaepernick as a response to the death of George Floyd.

Vikings: The Most Religious Show on TV?

 

Earlier this week, Bishop Robert Barron wrote a short essay MV5BOTEzNzI3MDc0N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzk1MzA5NzE@._V1_about the History Channel’s drama series Vikings, arguing that it’s the most explicitly religious show he can remember watching. On this advice, my husband and I watched the first episode last night and our 14-year-old son was immediately sucked in. His parting words for the night were “Don’t watch it without me!” (The 19-year-old came home in the middle of it and, scandalized, asked why we were letting him watch Game of Thrones? Um, no dear.) From a spoiler-free portion of the bishop’s piece:

[E]veryone in Vikings is religious: the Northmen (and women) themselves, the English, the French, and visitors from distant lands. To be sure, they are religious in very different ways, but there is no one who does not take with utter seriousness a connection to a higher, spiritual realm. Moreover, their spirituality is not an abstraction, but rather is regularly embodied in ritual, prayer, procession, liturgy, and mystical experience. The ubiquity and intensity of faith in these various peoples and tribes calls to mind philosopher Charles Taylor’s observation that, prior to 1500 or so, it was practically unthinkable not to be religious. That God exists, that spiritual powers impinge upon the world, that we live on after we die, that a higher authority judges our deeds—all of this was simply the default of the overwhelming majority of the human race prior to very recent times in certain pockets of Western civilization. Taylor speaks of the “buffered self” that has come to dominate today. He means the identity that is closed in upon itself, oblivious to a transcendent dimension, committed unquestioningly to a naturalist or materialist view of reality. I must confess that it was enormously refreshing to watch a program in which every single self was unbuffered!

I’ve read that, as a piece of historical fiction, it’s fairly accurate. Any opinions, Ricochet?