The Terrible Northmen…Sailing on Dragon Ships Like Serpents on the Sea! Shouting a Battle-Cry to Their Awesome God of War, Odin! (“The Vikings” 1958, tagline)
The Viking Age is fascinating and mythical, and the historical fiction movie “The Vikings” from 1958 filmed in Technicolor is the precursor to a number of films and TV series about the Norsemen. It is based on a novel inspired by the sagas of Ragnar Lothbrok (Old Norse: Ragnarr Loðbrók) and his sons. Sounds familiar?
«The Vikings» is directed by Richard Fleischer, narrated by Orson Welles, – and in the starring roles we find Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh and Ernest Borgnine. Kirk Douglas was also producing the movie that became a major box office success despite some critical reviews.
In the movie, half-brothers Einar (Kirk Douglas) and Eric (Tony Curtis) are fighting for the throne of Northumbria in Britain. The brothers do not know the true identity of the other and compete to win the kingdom, and not to forget beautiful princess Morgana (Janet Leigh).
“The Vikings” 1958 – Poster.
“The Vikings” is mostly filmed in the majestic Maurangerfjord, a 7.5 miles long branch of the Hardangerfjord in Kvinnherad municipality, Western Norway.
Although the film contains numerous historical errors, it is still more realistic than how the Viking Age is presented in many contemporary productions. Moreover, the movie is shot in “a real Norse environment”, and the longship looks impressive:
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Trivia (from IMDb)
At the end of the film, a Viking ship is set afire by flaming arrows in a rendering of a traditional Viking funeral.
The director Richard Fleischer took great care to have the archers practice the moment, training them to release the arrows on the count of “Three!”, and hoping at least some of the arrows would arc properly to hit the sail of the ship and set it on fire.
When the time came for the live shot, the director only reached the count of “Two!”, when one over-eager archer loosed his arrow.
As luck would have it, the arrow arced perfectly and hit the sail. Then, Fleischer called, “Three!” and the other archers loosed their arrows. Fleischer decided that he liked the one, single arrow being launched first, and kept the shot in the film because it looked like part of the ceremony.
If you want to learn more about the real Vikings, you are welcome to go here.
Text by: Thor News