(Richard Fleischer, 1958)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: Beautifully shot on location in Norway, the Kirk Douglas spearheaded epic The Vikings holds up magnificently.
It's hard to believe when you watch The Vikings that it's actually an independent film. Filmed on location in Norway with a massive cast and crew in a shoot that lasted over half a year with actual true-to-period longboats constructed especially, this is about as epic as personal pictures could get.
This feat is thanks to its lead actor and film producer Kirk Douglas who was one hell of a Hollywood trailblazer - carving a path for Stanley Kubrick with Paths of Glory, overturning the blacklist so Dalton Trumbo could get credit and working with the United Artists production company to craft films like this - well financed, tightly scripted pictures shot by the industry's finest teams.
Douglas hired his old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea director Richard Fleischer to command the project and command it he did. This is the kind of film that really puts a director through the mill and Fleischer emerged from the excess with a coherently told and wonderfully orchestrated epic narrative underscored by honed performances from Douglas and on-screen foe Tony Curtis with the likes of Janet Leigh and Ernst Borgnine offering solid support.
A story of brotherly deception and hatred against a backdrop of kidnapping and barnstorming history, this is real Sunday matinee material. It's the kind of film you can absorb on an off-day and think to yourself that they (really) don't make 'em like this anymore. Perhaps the star of the show is cinematography from the legendary Jack Cardiff (The Red Shoes, Black Narcissus) which has never looked as vibrant as it does on Eureka's beautiful 1080p Blu-ray treatment.
The Vikings is hell of a visual feast but there's plenty of meat on the story as well. Be sure to pick up one of the defining epics of the 1950s on this Eureka Blu-ray. The highlight of the special features is a look back at the film with Fleischer who coherently and warmly relates his memories (and on-set photographs) of the mammoth production.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES:
- Reversible Sleeve
- Gorgeous 1080p presentation
- Original stereo PCM soundtrack
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Exclusive new video interview with film historian Sheldon Hall
- A Tale of Norway (28 mins) A featurette about the making of the film, presented by director Richard Fleischer
- Original theatrical trailer
- PLUS: A booklet featuring the words of Richard Fleischer; a poster gallery and rare archival imagery