Vikings is an interesting show, it continues Michael Hirst’s (Elizabeth, The Tudors) fascination with historical drama with a gory tinge.
Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) has ambitions beyond his borders, sick of “raiding to the East” he decides to go against his Earl’s (Gabriel Byrne) orders and take his own band of warriors to the West.
With only myth, legend and a mysterious yet unproven mode of navigation Ragnar and his brother Rollo (Clive Standen) travel across the great Western ocean and lead a successful raid against the remote northern English lands.
Returning with riches and slaves Ragnar is both revered by his family and other Vikings and maligned by the society’s hierarchy.
This Blue-Ray HD version of the first series is a visual feast. Whether it is close-ups of the intense characters faces, or wide shots of magnificent vistas, there is a lot to drink in with this series. Particularly if you are a fan of the wet, the cold Scandinavian landscape (though the series is shot in Ireland) is brought to sopping life.
Fimmel’s Ragnar at first seems out of place against the more stereotypically depiction of bearded warriors, but after a few episodes he is a character that is wonderfully presented with a combination of untamed brutality, ambition and humour.
His wife Lagertha (Kathryn Winnick) is also a highlight. This series wonderfully depicts the strong position of females in the Viking society. Equal in status and role the women of the Viking culture raise the family, domesticate the household and fight alongside their husbands.
This aspect is a strong theme through the series meaning that whilst at times the writing is a little misdirected, there are always the concepts of the warrior hood, family, tradition and mysticism intermingled in the storylines.
There is equal time given to the well-directed battle scenes as there is to dialogue, ritual and cultural moments of this Dark Ages drama. It is surprisingly even handed on the blood-thirsty aspects of Viking times. Whilst there is plenty of gore that flows, it is not presented in such a visceral way as say Game of Thrones or, even, The Walking Dead.
This three disk set contains the first series (nine episodes) with the first and last containing commentary from the creator (Michael Hirst) and stars of the show. These are great for further insight into the thinking behind the series creation, giving some grounding in the how much of the story is based on sagas, archaeology and theory of Viking culture.
For those that enjoyed Hirst’s earlier series such as the Tudors, this is an easy decision. Whilst not as heavy on the intrigue as that show, Vikings is an exciting, suspenseful and visually superb watch. I found myself wishing for a 3D version of many of the episodes, even turning on my television’s faux 3D feature at times.
VIKINGS DVD & BLU-RAY EXTRAS AND SPECIAL FEATURES
· “The Armoury Of Vikings”: An interactive feature that allows viewers to learn more about the history and legacy of Vikings armoury and weapons.
· “Conquest and Discover: The Journey Of The Vikings”: An interactive feature that allows viewers to learn more about the locations and places Ragnar travelled to in his journey through Season1
· “Warrior Society: Viking Culture & Law”: A featurette that takes a closer look inside the fascinating system of laws, practices and rules employed by Vikings.
· “Birth Of The Vikings”: A featurette that provides an all-access look at the creation of VIKINGS.
· “Forging The Viking Army: Warfare And Tactics”: A featurette that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the process of casting and creating the epic battle scenes of Vikings
· Deleted Scenes
· Running Commentary: The names in brackets are the participants for that episode’s audio commentary:
1. Rites of Passage (creator Michael Hirst, co-star Jessalyn Gilsig)
2. Wrath of the Norsemen
6. Burial of the Dead
7. A King’s Ransom
9. All Change (co-stars Katheryn Winnick and Clive Standen)