About the Show
With the popular first season of Vikings releasing on this week on DVD and Blu-ray, we are going to look at some ancient Nordic inventions that we still make use of today. When people think of Vikings, many individuals draw the same conclusion often associating these menacing forefathers with murder and extortion. Whilst these three rather anti-social characteristics contain a certain element of truth, the ancient Norse were an extremely resourceful race and we have a lot to thank them for today…
The trusty comb has been every stylist’s number one tool for creating luscious locks for centuries. You may not believe it, but it was the Vikings who first came up with the concept of this kind of comb-like device. It makes sense too. Consider the contemporary stereotype of a male Viking, with long unkempt hair; a clear candidate for a grooming object. Interestingly, Vikings often manufactured their combs from the antlers of red deer that were frequently hunted for food. Resourceful much? If antlers were in short supply, common bones (hopefully not human, but who knows) were used because of their strength and durability.
A trick! This is, in fact, a common myth. It is true that the Vikings wore helmets to protect their heads during battle, but they didn’t contain extruding horns. If you share this common misconception, you have 19th century German operatic composer, Wagner, to thank. In 1876, Wagner’s costume designer came up with the pointy design for all Viking characters in the ‘Ring Cycle’, a show that still attracts die-hard international audiences today. Who would have thought something like that would catch on? We bet modern fancy dress salesmen are extremely grateful.
THE MAGNETIC COMPASS
Although the Ancient Greeks take all the credit for ingeniously discovering magnetite, the raw material required to create magnets, the Vikings used natural magnetite deposits in their homeland to make the world’s first magnetic compass. Perhaps this nifty invention is responsible for the Viking’s success in crossing the oceans to conquer foreign lands. Through vicious storms and blinding fog, the magnetic compass kept the Vikings one step ahead of rivals for a significant amount of time. Although Apple, amongst other computer whizzes, developed digital compasses, magnetic versions can still be found on the deck of most contemporary sea vessels.
While many people enjoy epic tales, you might not know that the Vikings were responsible for the creation of the saga. These stories help to preserve their culture’s history of conquests as well as adventurous tales and pass down lessons from generation to generation.
Enjoy the saga of Vikings Season One is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.
Bring Home Vikings Season One Today on Blu-ray and DVD
With the popular first season of Vikings releasing this week on DVD and Blu-ray, we are going to provide an insight into the myth and legend of the main character and quintessential anti-hero, Ragnar Lothbrok!
In 13th Century Europe, curiosity to explore foreign lands preoccupies the thoughts of central Europeans. The seafaring North Germanic’s, or ‘Vikings’, were particularly enthused by this form of oceanic exploration. Throughout a near 300 years, the Vikings allegedly traded, raided and settled in locations all over Europe. Equipped with crushing boats, heavy armour and gruesome weaponry, the Vikings were a serious force to be reckoned with.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing things about this race of warriors is that they were all essentially illiterate. Consequently, there are no existing literary records illustrating their movements. Foreign lands which witnessed the might and power of the Vikings have however written about their cruel and devastating invasions. Most of our contemporary knowledge of the Vikings has now been founded by European scripture and artistic interpretations of the many Viking assaults. Long after the Viking curtain call, Norse poetry and glamourized short stories (sagas) have consequently shed a little light on the legend.
So with little literary fact to go on, when a talented English screen-writer like Michael Hurst arrives on the scene with an ambition to create a gripping and entertaining TV show, it’s fair to say that it won’t be easy!
Emmy winner Hurst (The Tudors), attacks the challenge head on by shaping his Norse-y narrative around the legend of Ragnar Lodbrok, a notorious ruler of the Viking age who pillaged and killed his way through Europe before meeting his maker in a giant pit of snakes. He sounds like a nice guy eh?
The ultimate question remains; how can you turn an extortionist like Ragnar into an engaging and likable protagonist in an entertainment series? A challenge indeed, but not impossible! Think back to great TV anti-heroes like Tony Soprano for example. Delivered expertly by the late James Gandolfini, audiences couldn’t help but feel the love for old Tony despite his murderous and evil actions.
Cue young actor and US heartthrob, Travis Fimmel. With a short string of TV appearances to his name including Restraint and The Experiment, Fimmel rises to the challenge with expected force, whilst performing a sensitive and family orientated doppelganger to his pillaging nature as Lord of the Vikings. It’s a humanist approach, something Fimmel has stressed in recent interviews, that accounts for the protagonists growing likeability. Whilst we are exposed to Ragnar’s ruthless nature, each episode untangles a more naturalistic side to the young man’s persona. We learn that an ambitious Ragnar wants to explore the world around him in order to provide a better future for his young family. Michael Hurst adds a significant dimension to the ancient Norse sagas by portraying this Viking lifestyle as seriously tough. Consequently, Hurst’s characters, particularly Ragnar, express themselves with an air of caring sophistication and spirituality whilst conforming to their stereotypes and vicious warriors on the battlefield.
For all the fans of historical legend and gripping drama, Vikings is a show you do not want to miss. It’s safe to say that Ragnar certainly rocks!
Vikings Season One is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.
My Take on the Show
With my wife's family coming from Norway, the history of the vikings have been something that we have always been intrigued about. Even though this series is a bit over the top at times, we still loved that story in general. Not only does the series have great writing, but there is also amazing acting that is in this too. I can tell through watching this that the writers have done their research, and the director has worked closely with the actors to make this as real as possible making the series that much more convincing.
I also appreciated that the series brought forth a lot of the traditions of the Vikings. I was not aware of all of them, but in doing my own research after watching this, I was happy to see how close to reality the series was in regards to these traditions.
The series itself is definitely one that will engage you from beginning to end. You will be captivated from episode to episode and you will great drawn into both the drama and adventure that the series encompasses (or at least I did).
I am happy to see that the series was not cancelled and look forward to seeing where this series will lead!
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