Review: The Vikings

Blu-ray: The Vikings (1958)

During a Viking raid in England, Ragnar (Ernest Borgnine) rapes the queen, she secretly gives birth to a son Eric (Tony Curtis) who is captured and made a slave. Year later and in true Hollywood style he meets his half-brother Einar (Kirk Douglas) and falls in love with the Welsh Princess Morgana (Janet Leigh) who is destined to marry the evil king of England Aella.
This is Vikings, Hollywood style.

Opening with an animated Bayeux tapestry (huh?), and followed by a full on depiction of rape, fire and pillage. Amazingly some of the characters are real such as 9Th century Viking lord Ragnar Lodbrok and the Northumbrian king Aella, and seems to be along the lines of Norse traditional folklore (warring brothers).

The story is about the two sons of Ragnar, the rape created Eric (sorry but it’s true) and Einar who is basically Prince Viking in waiting. He’s well versed in drinking and snogging and axe throwing. This is the perfect Viking village, wenches brew ale in barrels the size of skips, hairy old men hurl axes at their wives, and small children run around wearing reindeer-skin nappies, and all this with a glorious back drop of real Scandinavian Fjords.

The story itself is your typical Boy (Einar) wants to rape girl and make her his (Morgana) but is thwarted by a slave he doesn’t know is his brother (Eric). Einar and Eric meet and Eric’s hawk gouges out Einar’s eye. Eric falls in love with Morgana, steals her away and they have a ‘meeting of flesh’ (bit rude). Dad (Ragnar) is murdered by evil English King Aella (Frank Thring playing yet another evil aristocrat very well), and cuts off Eric’s hand, brothers reunite to save Morgana from marrying Aella, brothers fight on a castle which wouldn’t be built for another 100-200 years, Eric dies.

This is a truly glorious film. The amazingly authentic longships look wonderful, as do the Fjords and made-for-film Viking village. The colours ping off the screen all thanks to cinematographer Jack Cardiff. Perhaps best of all is Tony Curtis’ micro shorts. They are so small you can nearly see his Brooklyn accent. I cannot emphasize how small these shorts are, and watching this film I kept wondering why the costume dept would do this, as he is the only character in them and he looks rather uncomfortable. Even when he’s pulled from a pool after being nibbled at by crabs he maintains his shorty shorts.

Now some younger viewers wouldn’t entertain watching this film and my god they are missing out on a classic. This is one of the ‘colour’ greats, a true ‘dad’ film that I put it alongside ‘The Quiet Man’, ‘Rio Bravo’ and ‘Clash of the Titans’. A rollicking over the top adventure with terrible dialogue and a dodgy story.

There’s one last thing – The Music. Just click on the trailer and listen to one of the BEST film soundtracks ever written.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

  • Reversible sleeve
  • Gorgeous 1080p presentation
  • Original stereo PCM soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Exclusive new video interview with film historian Sheldon Hall
  • A Tale of Norway (28 mins) – a video piece about the making of the film, presented by director Richard Fleischer
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • A collectors booklet featuring the words of Richard Fleischer; a poster gallery; and rare archival imagery

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Review by Tina (co-host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Eureka Entertainment.