Vikings: A Review of the New TV Show
The viking conquest of Europe is a truly fascinating period of world history, yet is rarely depicted on television or on the big screen. Given the seemingly limitless potential for dramatic grandeur that the Viking Era provides, it’s surprising that no-one has tried to capture it on an epic scale until now. We review the History Channel’s latest offering.
I will start off by saying that I am very glad that the History Channel has chosen to continue with Vikings for a second season.
Vikings is a quasi-epic series based primarily around the warrior Ragnarr Lodbrok. I use the term quasi-epic because Vikings does indeed, in moments, have epic qualities—but I would not classify it as an epic series…yet.
Ragnarr Lodbrok is a mythical Viking figure, who according to historians, may or may not have been a real person.
Now before you start jumping to conclusions about him being a demi-god, let me explain further. There are many historical investigators who have a hard time tracing the story of Ragnarr Lodbrok to any one person, and the best many can do is the Danish King Ragnarr who was popular during the Viking time period.
In the Vikings series, Ragnarr aka ‘Lodbrok’ (which is loosely translated in Norse to ‘Hairy Breeches’) is a vibrant, pioneering Viking played by Australian actor Travis Fimmel—who, like Lodbrok, may or may not have a hairy arse.
The first few episodes in Vikings introduces the characters quite well, Ragnarr Lodbrok is depicted as a tough, ruthless warrior—along with his brother Rollo (played by Clive Standen) who is in some ways is seen to be walking in his brothers shadow.
Without giving too much away, this brotherhood rivalry is an important aspect of the series. It basically creates a lot of the dramatic tension and precedes the storyline leading into each new episode. I don’t know, nor do I really care how much of this is based in truth—as it is a great narrative nonetheless.
The historical depiction of Vikings is fascinating. The creator, Michael Hirst has done a great job in trying to create a series that is unique in terms of subject matter and storyline.
To clarify, Vikings is not unique in the way it tells a story of a visionary, who attempts to overthrow an existing leader to create a better world—we have seen this many times before, but rather it is unique in the way the story is structured.
Through exceptional depictions of what we would assume a 9th Century Viking camp would look like, Ragnarr Lodbrok takes the audience on a journey through the day and life of a Great Viking. From appeasing the Gods, to travelling ‘West’ using a vessel similar to the Gokstad Ship, Lodbrok faces many challenges and albeit he usually uses his wits rather than his brawn, there are some very cool fight scenes—which I would put up there with some of the best in any TV series to date.
For action fans, there is nothing more satisfying that watching Ragnarr Lodbrok wield a Breiðöx (broad axe) and use it with full force into an opponent’s midsection—between drinks or course (you will wonder how Lodbrok walks, let alone fights with the amount of ale he consumes during the series).
Season 1 of Vikings is to put it simply a TV series with the authenticity of a documentary. It has great historical context and give you an insight into the Viking way of life which rarely shows its face in mainstream media.
No, if you’re asking….there are no zombies in it, but do yourself a favour and go buy yourself a copy…Thor will favour you.
Article by CS.
You can watch the stunning series trailer here: