Monday, January 26, 2009

Vikings and the north men

I've recently been thinking about Vikings. Somewhere there is a great movie to be made. I somehow doubt Outlander is even in the neighborhood, which isn't to say I don't hold out hope that it'll be cool.

No, I don't need to be reminded of The Vikings. That movie is a hundred kinds of awesome, I know.

But I think something with more of a Scandinavian texture. The kind of cultural myth is that the Vikings were these joyous, celebratory guys who were more out of hand and rambunctious in their behavior than anything, and that the cold hard texture of the people there now is a result of the introduction of Lutheranism.

I don't buy it. I don't think Vikings were roly-poly or joyous at all. Not the tenth century's equivalent of a frat boy nor the same as the Mediterranean marauders who would precede and follow them to many of the same lands.

I think they were tall, rigid and generally unpleasant. I don't think they raped and pillaged as part of some kind of great warrior philosophy or an excess of lusty passions. I think they were mean bastards. But not just mean bastards, but kind of joyless, mean bastards, who are mean because that's their disposition. I think they wanted to terrorize those in their path, those who opposed them. I think they survived a bitter cold land and felt little sympathy for those who couldn't stand up to them or next to them.

I can't say I know the story of that movie, but I know how it feels and looks. I know what the men and women look like and talk like. It wouldn't be unfamiliar to those schooled in Ibsen and Bergman. It would be a difficult story about people who weren't necessarily easy to like.

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