It’s been more than 1,000 years since the Vikings sailed the world’s oceans. Yet their myth and legend continues to live on through countless books, films and other pieces of media and popular culture. Heck, even an NFL team is named after them. Let the legend rise further as they’ve now been given the IMAX treatment in Vikings: Journey to the New Worlds, a big and friendly documentary that educates and entertains.
Vikings traces the history of the Atlantic explorers as well as going into the impact they have on our modern world. It also distills myths about Vikings, including the fact that those silly horned Thor helmets that have become synonymous with the Norse didn’t exist – at least to the extent that we see in today’s portrayals. Perhaps, more interesting is the fact that Vikings portrays its subject matter as a relatively peaceful lot – or perhaps that part of their history is glossed over.
Although I screened Vikings on DVD, rather than its original 70 mm format, the look and feel of the film is impressive. Despite being heavy in narration, Vikings keeps your interest through some clever make-up in the form of a loud soundtrack and eye-popping computer effects. There’s also a healthy amount of historical recreations that “show” Viking life rather than relying on the narrator to give his play-by-play for the duration of the film. The result is a textbook that students might actually want to read – even if the acting is a corny and the way things are layed out seem somewhat contrived.
There are times when the recreations come across as a little cheesy and the narration a little too plentiful, but one has to look at the initial intent of Vikings – to educate. Let’s just say I wish I got to see things like this when I was in school. It’s not a popcorn flick I’d go see on a lazy weekend, but I’d be ecstatic to see something like this as a student. It doesn’t just give info, it shows it and demonstrates it and in doing so at the very least it keeps my interest. When it comes to education, that’s more than half the battle.
When it was simply an IMAX film, the classroom had to go to the theatre. For many schools, this is cost prohibitive. While it might take away some of the “Wow Factor” that the IMAX brings, now that it’s on DVD, Vikings can be brought into most any classroom, whether it’s at school or at home.
Vikings: Journey to the New Worlds Trailer