“It gladdens me to know that Odin prepares for a feast. Soon I shall be drinking ale from curved horns. This hero that comes into Valhalla does not lament his death! I shall not enter Odin’s hall with fear. There I shall wait for my sons to join me. And when they do, I will bask in their tales of triumph. The Aesir will welcome me! My death comes without apology! And I welcome the Valkyries to summon me home!”
Fans of the ‘Vikings‘ series will recall Ragnar Lothbrok’s (Travis Fimmel) emotional speech while dangling in a cage over a pit of snakes. The Vikings’ narrative has returned to streaming services in ‘Vikings: Vallhala‘, set over a century later.
The Vikings were a group of Scandinavian warriors who left their kingdoms to raid, settle, and explore new territories around the world. They explored Europe, North America, and the United Kingdom. Poems, songs, stories, and carved runestones were used to pass down their tales of battle and heroic deeds before they were written down. They have had a significant impact on the modern world through their sea routes, navigation, and use of the name ‘Bluetooth.’
The Marvel Cinematic Universe characters ‘Thor’ and ‘Loki,’ played by Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston, respectively, are comic book adaptations of Norse mythology. The film ‘Max Payne‘, starring Mark Walberg and Mila Kunis, is based on the game of the same name, which also has a heavy Norse influence. In anticipation of Robert Eggers’s ‘The Northman’ and the ongoing Netflix show ‘Vikings: Valhalla‘, we have put together some Vikings-themed narratives.
If you appreciate Viking sagas, here is a selection of TV shows, movies, and documentaries you should check out. Skol!
The Last Kingdom
‘The Last Kingdom‘ follows the journey of ‘Uhtred’ and his quest to rightfully reclaim the kingdom of Bebbanburg. When the kingdom falls due to the Danish Viking army invasion, he and a young girl ‘Brida’ are enslaved. The two acquire Earl Ragnar’s favor after rescuing his daughter. They are adopted by him to be raised as Danes and Vikings. The story covers their banishment from their birth and adopted homes, as well as their alliances, raids, and loyalty to King Alfred.
Based on ‘The Saxon Stories’ by English historical author Bernard Cornwell. Alexander Dreymon stars as Uhtred and Emily Cox plays ‘Brida’. Screenwriter Stephen Butchard has developed the series. Season 5 will premiere on 9 March 2022 and will be its final season.
Watch ‘The Last Kingdom’ On Netflix: HERE
The saga of the Vikings, as presented by show creators Jon Iver Helgaker and Jonas Torgersen, offers a pleasant shift in genre. Even though it is depicted in a comical manner, the aspects of raids, plunder, and seafaring remain consistent. Nils Jørgen Kaalstad’s character, ‘Arvid’, battles his internal conflict to live a settled life in Norheim or continue raiding.
Along with the daily lives of the village people, the show also explores the Viking’s fashion sense, appeal for comedy, and their art of storytelling. It also touches on one of the arguments – whether or not they wore actually horns on their helmets. Cast include Kåre Conradi, Silje Torp Færavaag, Kristine Riis and Trond Fausa Aurvåg.
The Guardian ranked ‘Norsemen‘ at number twenty-nine on their list of the 50 Best TV Programs of 2017 and placed thirty-fifth on The Sunday Times list of the 50 Best Foreign Drama Series to watch. Season 3 won the Gullruten award in 2020 for Best Comedy Show. The Gullruten Award Show is Norway’s version of the Emmy Awards.
Watch ‘Norsemen’ on Netflix: HERE
A science-fiction addition to the tale of Vikings, ‘Outlander‘ describes an encounter between Vikings and an extraterrestrial alien. The movie is a period piece with a melange of futuristic technology. In the year 970 AD, a spaceship crashes into Scandinavia, transporting a human male-looking pilot ‘Kainan’ and a dragon beast called ‘Moorwen’. They both survive, however, the beast escapes captivity.
In new surroundings, Kainan quickly adapts himself to the environment by learning the local language of the people there. On his search for this monster, he comes upon a band of Vikings. The Vikings are skeptical of his story as they bind and question him. The narrative follows the ‘Moorwen’s’ eventual attacks on earth marking its territory.
The movie stars Jim Caviezel (‘The Passion of the Christ’), Sophia Myles (‘Underworld Series’), and late actor John Hurst (‘Alien’).
Watch ‘Outlander’ on Amazon Prime: HERE
Stepping away from exploring new lands and narrating Norse mythology is screenwriter Adam Price’s ‘Ragnarok.‘ Ragnarok, according to Norse mythology, is a set of events that will bring the world to an end. Sea serpents, giants, and dragons all fight against the Gods throughout this event. The show is a modern-day depiction of this incident.
In keeping with mythology, it depicts ‘giant’ corporations depleting the world’s natural resources, contaminating water, and polluting the atmosphere. This series features retellings of Thor, Loki, and Freyja in the modern-day. They gain similar abilities as in Norse mythology.
Magne Seier portrays ‘Thor’, who stumbles upon a barrel of toxic waste hidden in the snow-covered mountains. Together with his friend ‘Isolde’, they seek to uncover the conspiracy that the town is hiding under the leadership of the ‘Jutul’ family.
‘Thor: Ragnarok,’ directed by Taika Waititi, similarly follows a representation of this tale in Norse mythology.
Watch ‘Ragnarok’ on Netflix: HERE
Viking Warrior Women
Lagertha, Torvi, and Astrid are a number of shield maidens depicted in the ‘Vikings’ series. They were champions in one-on-one combat, field battles, and have participated in numerous successful raids. We’ve seen great female character arcs grow throughout both shows, notably those of Aslaug, Estrid Haakon, and Emma of Normandy for her tactfulness in the recent ‘Vikings Valhalla.‘
However, early archaeologists and historians were quick to dismiss the idea that a woman might be a warrior among the Viking men during early excavations of Viking tombs and crypts throughout Scandinavia and England.
Join National Geographic explorer and palaeoanthropologist Ella Al-Shamahi as she journeys through the graves sites in Birka (Sweden), Langeland (Denmark), Repton (England), and Åsnes (Norway). She recreates burial sites using modern technology to prove the existence of Women Viking Warriors. She will re-forge weapons from that period, unearth historic trading currency, and unravel the mystery of the artifacts discovered at the gravesites.
Learn about the ‘Viking Warrior Women’ On Disney+ Hotstar: HERE
A Viking chieftain holds a one-eyed mute warrior captive and compels him to fight to the death while the others lay bet on the ongoing fights. ‘One-Eye’ eventually kills his captors and makes a getaway with a young pagan boy. They stumble into some Christian Norsemen who are on their way to Jerusalem to reclaim the sacred city. He sails with them on their holy crusade, seeking meaning and plagued by premonitions.
The end of mythological beliefs and the dawn of organized religion are lightly displayed in the film. The one-eyed warrior is a homage to ‘Odin,’ who is also depicted with only one eye.
The Danish period film is directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and stars Mads Mikkelsen (‘Doctor Strange’, ‘Hannibal’ Series).
Watch ‘Valhalla Rising’ on: Apple TV+ | Amazon Prime
The movie depicts the Vikings as one of the earlier people to have arrived on the shores of North America. A native American tribe fights off a Vikings raid. The raiding warrior’s lone survivor is the Viking leader’s little son. He is adopted by the tribe and given the name ‘Ghost’ due to his pale skin. Years pass, and ‘Ghost’ must gain the respect of the tribal members who raised him while also acknowledging his Viking roots. He must decide whether to use his father’s sword against the marauding Vikings or against his people.
‘Pathfinder‘ is based on a 1987 Norwegian movie of the same name. Filmmaker Marcus Nispel serves as director and stars Karl Urban (‘The Boys’) as ‘Ghost’. Karl Urban also played the role of ‘Skurge – The Executioner’ in Hela’s army of the dead in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’. In this film as well, he must choose between fighting or defending Asgard’s common folk.
Watch ‘Pathfinder’ on Amazon Prime: HERE
Another breakaway from live-action with a fresh take on the Vikings is ‘Vinland Saga’. After a battle at sea, Thor’s Snorresson abandons his Viking ways of killing, robbing, and plundering. He leads a peaceful life in Iceland with his family. The saga follows his son Thorfinn’s expeditions as he learns to be a true Viking.
Makoto Yukimura, a Japanese artist, wrote and illustrated the manga series from which the anime is adapted. The plot is based on historical accounts from the time period, including ‘The Flateyjarbók’, ‘The Saga of the Greenlanders’ and ‘The Saga of Eric the Red’. The characters ‘Leif Erikson’ and ‘King Canute’ appear in both ‘Vinland Saga’ and ‘Vikings Valhalla’.
Watch ‘Vinland Saga’ on Amazon Prime: HERE
How to Train Your Dragon
The ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ film series from DreamWorks Animation Studios brings our list to a close on a lighter note. The animated film franchise is based on British novelist Cressida Cowell’s children’s books. The franchise has its own website and is composed of three movies, TV shows, video games, short films, and a gaming series.
Set in the Viking village of Berk, this fantastical story features fire-breathing dragons and Viking warriors. The raiding and stealing, however, are done by the dragons and not the Vikings. In Berk, the young are trained to be dragon hunters. The story follows ‘Hiccup’, a young kid with a knack for inventing gadgets, on his numerous adventures with a dragon he befriends, ‘Toothless.’ The characters are usually seen sporting Viking attired in animal pelts, fur boots, and horned helmets.
Watch ‘How To Train Your Dragon’ On Netflix: HERE
Along with our picks, we also suggest taking a look at ‘The Saga of Bjorn’ (Animated Short Film), ‘Asterix and the Vikings‘ (2006), ‘Vikings‘ and the documentary ‘The Last Battle of the Vikings’ presented by archaeologist Dr. Jon Henderson who tells the story of the Norsemen in Scotland in 1263.