Review: Vikings: Journey to New Worlds (2004)


Directed by: Marc Fafard | 40 minutes | documentary

This IMAX film about the “Vikings” comes into its own when the “Journey to New World” is deployed. Beautiful camera work in bird’s eye view over the most exquisite landscapes of Iceland and Greenland make this documentary more than worthwhile. From the start it is made clear that the Vikings, or Normans, were more than barbarians with horned helmets. Those horns have never been mounted and barbarians were not in the least. Sure there was murder and looting, but more emphasis is placed on the rich culture of these Scandinavian tribes.

The influence of the “Normans” has, it is fascinatingly clear, left its mark, from the name of French provinces deep into Russia and the Middle East. But most of the film is devoted to the westbound journey towards today’s US. First it is the hot-tempered Erik the Red who “discovers” Iceland and establishes a colony there, later his son Leif Eriksson who dares even further and finally arrives in a country, which he baptizes “Vinland” through various stops. Only quite recently has it been conclusively established that that country is today’s Newfoundland. Writings of that time, long dismissed as sagas, suddenly turned out to be very accurate.

The same writings also give a beautiful picture of the daily activities of the Viking families. These are depicted on the big screen accompanied by atmospheric music.

Yet the great added value is precisely those previously mentioned images of the landscapes of Iceland and Greenland. Waterfalls, green meadows, spouting geysers and massive ice plains, that gives the film its right to exist as an IMAX documentary and gives the viewer a sense of awe for these medieval adventurers who (often with their families) left home and hearth and plunged into limbo. looking for a better life.

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