The Vikings on Blu-ray

Tuesday, 17 October 2017 08:59

The Vikings - available now on Blu-ray“The Vikings” is a star-studded historical epic featuring Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh and Ernest Bourgnine. Einar (Douglas – “Spartacus”, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”) is an impetuous, war-waging Viking prince who becomes infatuated with an English princess (Leigh – “Psycho”, “Touch of Evil”), and driven by his hatred of Eric, a defiant slave who is actually his bastard half-brother, though neither of them know it.

Eric (Curtis – “Some Like it Hot”, “The Defiant Ones”) is the offspring of Viking King Ragnar (Borgnine – “The Wild Bunch”, “The Dirty Dozen”) and an English queen, who seems fated to big things. The swashbuckling, melodramatic story is based on a novel by Edison Marshall, and directed by Richard Fleischer (“Tora! Tora! Tora!”, “Soylent Green”).

The movie is an enjoyable romp with quite a jolly, upbeat tone despite the underlying subject matter. This is partly due to the high number of scenes that feature Einar and friends partaking in celebratory feasts, drowning themselves in beer and engaging in dangerous ‘party games’ to impress their women.

There are some excellent action sequences including a rousing sea battle and a spectacular castle siege. It appears that the stars did many of their own stunts, which makes the action more convincing, including when Einar gleefully ‘runs the oars’ (hopping from one oar to the next along the length of the ship).

Although the film is apparently not strictly accurate from a historical perspective, Fleischer did a lot of research to guarantee a sense of authenticity. The movie benefits from it across wardrobe, sets, ships and customs (though some of these were more in the style of Vikings).

With Game of Thrones presently taking the world by storm, this sort of classical epic will hopefully gain many new fans despite the absence of dragons and a ‘PG’ rating. It proves that you can have a fantastic time without resorting to gallons of blood, nudity and swearing (not that I mind such things!).

Special features on the disc include:

  • Reversible sleeve
  • 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 featurette about the making of the film, presented by director Richard Fleischer
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • A booklet featuring the words of Richard Fleischer; a poster gallery and rare archival imagery

Sheldon Hall’s expansive interview is impressively authoritative and interesting, not least the comment about Douglas originally wanting the role of Eric, and then ensuring Einar became the primary character when he switched to the antagonist. Actors and their egos! The Norwegian fjords look superb in high definition, so it is understandable that the director lingers on them time and time again.

“The Vikings” (1958) is out now, courtesy of Eureka Entertainment Ltd. The main feature has a running time of 116 minutes approx, carries a ‘PG’ certificate and retails for £14.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

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