Swedes set up 'ultimate Viking movie'

Geoffrey Macnab
Friday 05 August 2011 00:00 BST
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Axe to grind: A still from the ultra-violent Viking movie 'Valhalla Rising'
Axe to grind: A still from the ultra-violent Viking movie 'Valhalla Rising'

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Louise Thomas

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After years of ridicule and misrepresentation, the Vikings are on their way home. Plans are well under way for what the Swedish company Fladenfilm is calling "the ultimate Viking movie". The $30m version of Frans G Bengtsson's bloody Nordic saga The Long Ships (which is due to shoot in 2013) will comprise two feature films and a television series. What is different about this project is that it is being made by Viking nations – the Swedes in combination with their neighbours.

"The Vikings in the past have always been shown in big battle films, travelling around fighting," says the Fladenfilm CEO and producer of The Long Ships, Patrick Ryborn. "They always were shown wearing long horns when they were fighting."

Ryborn promises that the new project will show other aspects of Viking life and culture. The emphasis will be on the humour as well as the violence, though the film will tell the story of Red Orm, a 10th-century warrior who is kidnapped from his village by the marauding Krok and press-ganged as a warrior and oarsman.

In making the film, Ryborn hopes to erase memories of Jack Cardiff's ill-starred 1964 version of The Long Ships, which was made largely as a vanity project for Richard Widmark and which did so much to bring Viking movies into disrepute.

The British production company Vertigo Films (behind the football hooligan film The Football Factory and Horrid Henry 3D) is plotting its own-low budget Viking movie, The Hammer of the Gods. In 2009, the Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn made an ultra-violent Viking movie, Valhalla Rising.

"Many of the Viking movies that have made to date have just gone for the violence," Ryborn says. "It is more fun if you can go for the comedy part too. And this book [The Long Ships] is the only Viking story that is worth telling."

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