Vikings is an intriguing story done by the History Channel, which is a fictionalized account of Viking life but it tells the story of a pagan society turning West and becoming part of Western Civilization. Ragnar Lothbrok seeks the new world to discover, where Earl Haraldson is satisfied to continue raiding the East. Ragnar battles Earl over his ideas of going West and the conflict between the two men begins in earnest. Ragnar is viewed as a family man who is committed to his wife and children. (It should be noted that Ragnar’s wife is Shield Maiden, a female warrior.)
Vikings journey to the West puts Norsemen into contact with England and find much to plunder. They also become in contact with Christianity. Religion becomes a central theme as in Ragnar’s initial voyage to England; the Viking warrior not brings home plunder but also a monk for a slave. Norse gods are in conflict with Christianity as the monk tells of One God as oppose to many. Ragnar soon becomes friend with his Monk slave, even one occasion puts the Monk in charge of his children when he and his wife goes on one of their raids. It promises to be an interesting relationship as two men from different world and different beliefs interact.
For a period of five weeks through the month of March, the History Channel produced some of the best television with The Bible followed by Vikings. Great stories often make for great television or movies. The Bible of course is the premier great story with everything one needs; sex, violence and great characters along with seeking the truth of who we are and where we are going. Vikings combine history along with great script writing, great production and great action.
Let face it, there is nothing like great Viking fight scenes to get one blood pumping but beyond the great fight scenes, there is great character development. Ragnar’s brother Rollo is a great warrior in his own right but he is jealous of his brother and this could lead to further conflict with Ragnar. Earl Haraldson views Ragnar a threat to his throne and with good reason; Ragnar’s adventurous nature threatens much of Norsemen’s beliefs. When told that Ragnar going West, Earl remark is “There are no lands West,” Earl fears for his throne and both he and his wife are still haunted by the murder of their sons.
Then there is Ragnar’s friend Floki, who is a genius at boat building and he has designed a long boat that is capable of sailing on the Open Seas. The Viking long boat represent a technological advance for the Vikings can’t not only go on the Open Seas but these boats can navigate on more shallow waters. These boats allowed Vikings to cross the rough seas and plunder the wealthier West.
The conflict in this mini-series is one of the past versus the future with the Earl representing the past and Ragnar the future. Ragnar’s vision of going West and his friend Floki’s ability to make technological advance boats represents a different and forward path. It is an age old conflict of where the past and the future intersect, with those leaders of the Past understanding their power is slipping away. This conflict explodes between the Earl and Ragnar in a single one on one battle with the winner becoming the Earl!
There is a lesson here, good stories based on history and folklore make for good television when combined with great writing and great acting. Vikings conveys a story about a society threatened by innovation and the ambition of major characters and this fictional story tells how the Norsemen made their jump into Western History and forever changed Western civilization.