BMZ Review: Vikings: Journey to New Worlds
By Ann Coates
Vikings: Journey to New Worlds
Written by: Ann Coates
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: May 9, 2005
Sky High Entertainment's latest offering, Vikings: Journey to New Worlds, explores the intricacies of the Viking era, tracing the Viking ascent to dominance and their long-standing influence on the modern world. Clearly geared towards school groups, this educational film reveals some very valuable insights into this ancient culture.
The film immediately jumps into its lecture with the Viking raid of an English monastery at Lindisfarne, England around 793 A.D. Widely believed to be the beginnings of the Viking Era, this opening raid frames the Vikings into their well-known barbaric identity. The film, however, is quick to dismiss this reduction of Viking culture. Instead, it continues to examine them not simply as warriors, but as explorers, innovators, poets, and settlers. In the process, many misunderstood aspects of the Vikings are debunked, like the erroneous notion that Vikings wore horns on their helmets (a fabrication lifted from Wagnerian opera and cartoons).
In its exploration of the Men from the North, the film imparts the many interesting achievements of these ancient people. Traveling from Norway, Sweden and Denmark, the Viking expansion reached as far as the Middle East and Russia, and eventually land on North America 500 years before Columbus. Though longships were the basis of much of the Vikings' power, the film's attempt to explain their importance comes off as stuffy and dull.
The film picks up in its study of the Icelandic Sagas, the oral traditions of the Vikings cataloguing the history of their people. Utilizing the travels of Erik the Red and his son Lief Eriksson, the film spends a few moments reflecting on the landscapes of Iceland and Greenland where it makes good use of the Large Format with its images of rolling, green valleys and iceberg-covered fjords.
Acceptable CGI images intermix with mostly live-action Viking re-enactments, and a competent narration rounds out the film. Vikings works exceptionally well within its education genre, but should prove fascinating to anyone with an interest in ancient civilizations.
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