I have just finished watching a marathon of Love Film’s first exclusive acquisition, the gripping Vikings, a historical action drama from the US History Channel. All nine episodes were released at once - in keeping with other streaming services like Netflix who are tapping into the advantages of simultaneous release to keep viewers engaged. I for one know I am too impatient a consumer for weekly shows to hold my interest!
The series is inspired by the tales of the raiding, trading and exploring Norsemen of early medieval Scandinavia. It follows the rise of the legendary Viking chieftain Ragnar Lodbrok played by the extremely handsome Travis Fimmel [who knew a football hooligan haircut could look so sexy!].
The Vikings live on a beautiful jut of the Scandinavian coast and are a chauvinistic and barbaric bunch with curious customs. The men are dirty and the women are tough especially Ragnar Lodbrok’s ‘shield maiden’ wife who is is styled like a punk princess and is just as tough as her husband. The action is divided between the Viking’s raids of neighbouring countries and political divides in the village with Ragnar’s rival played by Gabriel Byrne.
The grit of the series is balanced by the History Channel shedding light onto the fascinating infrastructure of the Viking community. We learn about their Pagan customs and their sense of kinship – men would give themselves up to the Gods in a yearly ceremony of sacrifice for the good of their clan. Clan Royalty would pilgrimage to Uppsala the city of Gods high in the woods for weeks of prayers for their village – the show features beautiful scenes of atmospheric Nordic woods hung with bells, scraps of cloth and trinkets on such a journey.
From the eerie opening credits to the stunning Scandinavian landscape, Vikings is gripping, unusual and beautiful. There is a lushness in the atmospheric winter nights when clans huddle together in furs by spitting fires and the freedom of cool summers spent hunting in magical hills.
I have not seen Game of Thrones as yet, but obvious comparisons have been made. Reviews describe Vikings as un-rivalling its complexity - the universe is smaller, there are fewer characters and the plotting isn’t as dense — but it is a solid, engaging watch for those like me who are building up the stamina before plunging into Game of Thrones.