For the first time in decades, Norway has produced a Viking movie. Trace is a short film made as a University project with limited funds, but still aiming for the epic.
Unless you count the fantasy-mystery movie The Veil of Twilight (2014) or Pathfinder (1987) as Viking films – you’d have to stretch the definition quite hard to make that argument – Norway has not produced a Viking movie since 1985’s Trees grow on stones too. And that was a Russian co-production. Not even the major upcoming feature The Last King (2016) is about Vikings in the traditional sense. It took a University student to produce Norway’s first Viking film in a long time, so maybe it is symptomatic that the film is “only” a 36 minute short film. Trace is director Markus Dahlslett’s Master’s Degree project, and it will have its festival premiere in March.
Set in the historical Viking age, it tells the story of Baldr, an explorer who has travelled far and wide. He has aquired knowledge that can help his people make a better future. Now he must escape Gorm and his vicious clan, who seek to destroy all that can challenge their view of the world. -The most important theme in the movie is about knowledge, and preserving information so it can be handed over to the next generation, Markus Dahlslett said to trd.by
Two years in the making, and involving 80 people, the film is made on a small budget and with the help of volunteers. Markus Dahlslett wrote, produced and directed the movie, and one would think that making a Viking movie under such circumstances would be difficult. -It grew to a quite big production [but] we have spectacular nature just outside our doors and I wanted to use the local resources we have, the director explained. He lended weapons from the local Viking reenactment group, which also trained the cast for on-screen action. Costumes were taken from a historical outdoor stage play, while the crew made many of the props themselves.
The film offers a fictional story but aims for authenticity through costumes, props and locations, which meant that choosing Stiklestad, not far from Trondheim (where the director studied film and video prodiction) as one of 15 filming areas was a natural choice. The battle of Stiklestad in 1030, where King Olaf Haraldsson was killed, is one of the most famous battles in the history of Norway.
Authenticity was also the reason for choosing to use Norse language in all lines and dialogue. This is a rare occurence in Nordic films, including Viking films, but Dahlslett managed to get a professor of old Norse to translate spoken words to the dead language. -[The film] would probably not be as convincing if the characters had spoken [modern Norwegian] or our local dialect, Dahlslett said.
He hopes that the film will be distributed to short film festivals around the world, although a shorter edit may have to be made to qualify. TV series such as The last kingdom and Vikings have hopefully paved the way for a Viking short film – and dare we hope for a feature version, should money men like what they see?
Starring Simen Stokke, Audun Bartnes, Ole Fredrik Wannebo, Jonas M. Larsen, Susanne Olavsdottir Ingdal, Caroline Fredriksen, Ørjan Trotland, Robert Rasmussen, Trace premieres at the Kosmorama festival in Trondheim, Norway, held between 8th and 13th March.