Einar and Eric are two Viking half-brothers. The former is a great warrior whilst the other is an ex-slave, but neither knows the true identity of the other. When the throne of Northumbria in Britain becomes free for the taking, the two brothers compete against one another for the prize, but they have very different motives - both involving the princess Morgana, however. Written by
Graeme Roy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The three Viking ships in the film were designed using blueprints for an actual Viking ship salvaged from the water and restored by a Viking museum in Norway. It turned out that the boats built for the film were too accurate, because the modern actors were taller than their historical counterparts. Every other oar hole had to be plugged so the modern men would have room to row with a full oar stroke. Otherwise, they would hit the backs of the oarsmen seated in front of them when pushing the oar handles forward to start each new stroke. See more »
The Northumbrian flag, a complex banner flying from the tops of Aella's castle towers, would not have existed in this period. The Viking age preceded formalized heraldry by centuries. Northumbria did have a flag, as many pre-heraldic kingdoms did, it was a counterchanging banner of 8 vertical stripes, red (or purple) and gold. It is also unlikely that Aella's soldiers would've had shields bearing heraldic devices. If the shields (a red 'X" on a white background) were meant to signify St. George's Cross (which today stands for England in the UK's Union Jack), that is also anachronistic. The symbol was not used until centuries later and it was a cross (vertical & horizontal members) instead of a saltire (diagonal members). See more »
Many thanks to vaughn.birbeck for giving us the historical background of "The Vikings." It is great to know that the film has a basis in fact right down to the names of the main characters. I first saw "The Vikings" on a raw Saturday afternoon in February of 1959 with my brother and my best friend, Buddy. When the show was over, we ran home full of excitement. My brother and I burst into our house to find the Hall family was visiting. Catching our breath, we choked out, "We just saw the greatest movie of all time! It's The Vikings! It had Vikings and knights and they were sailing across the poison sea and attacking the castle and shooting arrows and throwing axes and chopping off hands with slashing swords......"
When Mr. Hall retorted, "Now don't you think it is unfortunate that people can't find other ways to settle their differences?" I felt, "Oh, boy! I hope I never get so old that I think like him and can't enjoy 'The Vikings'."
It was the thrill of my brother's life as an adult to ask Kirk Douglas on a New York studio talk show, "Did you actually jump across the moat to grab onto the axes in the drawbridge door, or did a stunt man do that?"
Kirk's answer was, "I wanted to do it but the insurance company wouldn't let me."
Even now I love the film but two things about it bother me. Great actor that he is, Kirk Douglas is just too nice of a guy and too good looking to be convincing as Ainar. Edison Marshall's book "The Viking" on which the film is based portrays him by the name of Hastings more like the character of Barnes as played by Tom Berringer in "Platoon." In "The Vikings", Ragnar introduces his son Ainar as someone who is "so vain of his beauty, he scrapes his face like an Englishman." Hastings is not charming or vain but tough and so cruel and even sadistic that after Eric's hawk tears up his entire face (not just his eye), Hastings delights in the horrifying effect his facial scars has on the victims he kills and rapes. The women scream, his facial scars dance as he laughs at their horror, the women scream even more in horror.... Hastings, like Barnes in "Platoon" clearly is a guy other Viking warriors hold in awe and whom Eric really wants to see dead. But in the film, Ainar is just a good looking, charismatic, fun guy we actually pity when after crossing the poison sea, storming the castle, jumping over the moat, climbing the tower, and crashing through the stain glass window to get to the love of his life, Morgana tells him he isn't her type.
The other thing that bothers me about "The Vikings" is the miscasting of blond, buxom Janet Leigh as the Welsh princess, Morgana. Eric and Hastings were used to having blond, buxom Scandinavian women around them all the time. It was the novelty of the cute, demure, petite, brunette Welsh Morgana that captivated them and motivated them to engage in an adventure that involved scores of ships sailing the Mediterranean before they finally engaged in their showdown at high noon with crossed swords.
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