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Viktor Rydberg's Investigations into Germanic Mythology Volume II  : Part 2: Germanic Mythology
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NESP Reviews


The Vikings (1958)

Directed by: Richard Fleischer

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine, Janet Leigh, James Donald

Review by Álfta “Svanni” Óðinssen

I used to wonder where people got some of their, frankly idiotic ideas, about what Heathenism is. After seeing this film, I now know where they got them. On the DVD, the original movie trailer is included, and here you find the influences of those groups whose ideals of Heathenism is little more than bellowing, sword swinging, beer guzzling maniacs. The narrator of the trailer says, “For the Viking the only life was life in battle, the only woman for a Viking was a woman taken....” Rubish. The narrator in the film, who sounds very much like Orson Welles, says that the reign of the Vikings was one marked as the most vicious and bloody in recorded history. Obviously the writers of this film know little of the crusades and the Inquisition. The first Viking we see rapes a woman in a scene that is straight out of the Christian descriptions of Northmen. The second Viking we see is committing adultery with another man's wife. Despite the fact that Heathens were very fastidious about grooming, dress and cleanliness the Vikings in this film look barely one step away from being cavemen. The scenes in their halls are marked not by a presentation of culture but a marked lack of culture and is permeated throughout with low-minded behavior that marks the whole affair as little more than a drunken orgy. Despite the fact that the director of the movie claims to have had a consultant from the museum of Oslo, there is little here other than the beautiful scenery of Norway and the dragon ships, that is any where close to the real culture of the Northmen. This claim is frankly astounding given what made it to the screen, but then at least they didn't have horned helmets. Considering the claims that a great deal of study went into the production of this film it is hard to see it, especially when we consider such excellent books as Axel Olrik's “Viking Civilization” have been around in an English translation since 1930. What you have with this film is a story based solely on Christian lies about the Northmen. Anyone who would use this film or the book it was based on, as a basis for what Heathenism was or should be, is seriously deluded. If it where not for the fact that this film is taken as a realistic depiction of Heathen culture, this would be a film worth watching to laugh at. Unfortunately, that some people do take this as an accurate depiction of real Heathen culture, makes watching this film a sad testament to just how much harm Hollywood can do.

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