I don’t live in the past—I only visit—and so can you!

Archive for August, 2022

MEDIEVAL MOVIES VII

Updating and correcting “Medieval Movies: Films of the Viking Era,” to include films released since the last edition. And discovered there were many other films as well…

I’ll be posting comments on some of the ones not covered before for the next month!

Olav (2021) (tv series)

A strange, delightful and effective mixture of modern and medieval, where Kristofer Hivju in modern day searches for him in the twenty-first century while there are segments from the eleventh. A portrayal and search for one of the greatest Norwegian heroes and allegedly Hijvu’s great hero. Costuming is mostly accurate, though the cloaks tend to be fur. The CGI is simple but more effective than many other productions. But so well detailing the man and the search that you do not really notice any errors. Combat scenes show that you can do very effective combat scenes without being too gristly or blood. The series is in three parts, and each part deals with a different part of Olaf’s life and the happenings after his death: Olaf’s life as a Viking, as a king and as a saint. I started watching just before midnight and had to finish the three-hour production!

Killian’s Chronicle: The Magic Stone (1995)

A fascinating and well-done story of the interaction between Irishman and skraeling, as well as heathen versus Christian The film-makers make the most of what the budget allows it is very satisfying. The magic stone is a sunstone, and there are many other details are part of little-known aspects of the culture. Costumes are more than adequate for the most part, and while there are waistcotes, there re no furry cloaks. The skraeling do call the Norse “bear people,” which might be a sly reference to bearsarks. Even the already dodgy character going combat mad after being treated with mushrooms after a being stuck by the porcupine he was tormenting makes a lot of sense but is never directly alluded to. Unfortunately, chess is frequently played though this was a time when the game had not been introduced to Europe. Why couldn’t it have been Fidchell?

Sword of Vengeance (2015)

aka Schwert der Rache aka La Spada Della Vendetta

Bad two-sword combat, plenty of bloody gore and really neat and cool explosions! Lots of running in bad costume and worse armor. Nice horns on their helmets!

Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands (2016) (TV Mini Series)

aka Beowulf

Bad armor, terrible costumes, bad weapons, incredibly bad CGI but enough blood and gore to keep the folks who love this stuff happy. Even the scenery is somewhat banal and sterile. Even the CGI creation of knotwork is pretty uninspiring compared to its primitive antecedents from Magnus Magnusson’s “Vikng” series from years ago. There are at least no stone keeps, but the wooden structures they present are no less inaccurate, though in a different way. The sets look as if they done by Frazetta on a really bad day. Lots of furry cloaks and black garments and armor, which is the best way they seem to think to prove they are being accurate. Incredibly pretentious as it screams out of be a comedy. Great furry cloaks though. Do not watch this in hopes of getting ideas for an accurate reenactment.


MEDIEVAL MOVIES VI

Updating and correcting “Medieval Movies: Films of the Viking Era,” to include films released since the last edition. And discovered there were many other films as well…

I’ll be posting comments on some of the ones not covered before for the next month!

Trees Grow on the Stones Too (1985)

Aka Flukt aka I Na Kamnyakh Rastut Derevya aka Dragens Fange

Rather bland photography and choreography, without much crispness, innovation nor artistic innovation. Scenes are rather static and old fashioned, and even the action is rather dull, with Vikings prancing delicately around. The combat scenes are rather staged and amateur, as if they were choreographed by a high-school drama teacher. And let’s not talk about over-acting. Which is too bad since the costumes are decent (though with the hoods of a later era, puttees that are indescribable, too many visible bags and belts that are much too wide), the props are accurate and I saw no furry cloaks or fur-lined caps for some time into the film. The word parts of this film is far better than the best parts of some later films, though, though it is not as enjoyable as some reviewers have said. It started out rather fine and goes downhill through much of the film. If I was able to get a translation, I might not be so critical, but I had to focus on what I saw. For example, they used plenty of buttons!

Stone Forest, The (1965)

aka Il Tesoro Della Foresta Pietrificata aka Treasure of the Petrified Forest

Viciously bad acting, typical Italian Viking costume and unusually sterile photography. It mentions Vikings by name and is a clever mash-up where the opera by Wagner is crossed with a Humphrey Bogart film! Not recommended for researching costume, though it is at least not a poor retread of Fritz Lang. The only reason to research thi is just to see how you should write a really really bad film. But the dry ice budget was probably a lot more than the costume!

El Príncipe Encadenado (1960)

aka King of the Vikings

A Spanish film adapted from a seventeenth-century play that presented Spanish culture as the best of all time but attempts to meld generic Viking culture with a the play. Costumes and armor is ludicrous and bright, possibly rejected by Italian Viking films, and seem more similar to those used in films of classical times than whatever time this is presending to be. Weapons are similar to Spanish or Muslim versions, and the scenerey is filled with castles and stone buildings, not even giving a token nod to period woodn buildings. It is amusing that, after a while, you recognize the scenery used in Spanish films as easily as that used by John Ford in Monument Valley. There are, of course, no drakkars, not even row boats with dragon prows.

Sweaty Beards (2010)

aka Die verrückten Wikinger—Die vergessene Wikinger-Legende

A Swedish comedy that is actually funny, inspired by Monty Python. Costumes are relatively accurate, unless the inaccurate costumes are meant to be amusing. Props are more accurate than they need to be, and the actions are often broad and burlesque.