“There’s much to be said for growing old.”
I have a weakness for a good Viking film, but unfortunately they are hard to come by. So when I came across The Viking Sagas directed by Michael Chapman, I couldn’t resist. The film follows along the same lines of many a mythic tale–a young man learns to be a warrior, and then must fight to gain back his rightful place in society. In the case of The Viking Sagas the young man is burly, blond Kjartan (Ralf Moeller). After his father’s death, Kjartan–with the legendary Ghost Sword–is on the run from evil Ketil (Hinrik Olafsson). Kjartan takes refuge in the home of the Lawgiver and falls in love with his daughter Gudrun (Ingibjorg Stefansdottir). Gudrun, however, is promised to the evil Mord (Hans Martin Stier) of Trollwood.
The film is set in Iceland, and so the scenery is gorgeous. The sets are authentic–no complaints there. The sword fights and the battles are excellently done, but don’t expect any scenes involving Viking ships–because there aren’t any. There are lots of gory sequences–blood gushing, entrails, and even a severed leg that twitches after it falls to the ground. All the characters speak in English. German bodybuilding champion Ralf Moeller sounds a lot like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the other actors display a range of accents. Some of the dialogue was problematic. At one point for example, a man asks Gudrun “where’s your cute brother today?” That hardly seems authentic.
The film also falls down in the plot. There’s an almost constant voice-over that fills in all the background and the gaps in the film. The film, at times, is episodic, and the narration acts as a gap-filler, offering explanations of background legends, and events and action that have taken place off screen. Without the narration, the film wouldn’t make much sense. With the narration, it makes sense, but it’s also so extensive, it makes you realize that The Viking Sagas were probably meant to be a miniseries and not an 83-minute film.