The Vikings are coming!

Coming to NRK this fall is The Vikings, a comedy drama about the everyday life of the Norse people. “Epic and stupid” are the two words the co-director use to describe the series.

Set in the year 790, The Vikings (original title: Vikingane) starts when a Roman actor, Rufus, is taken to the Norse village Norheim, where he starts a life as a slave. With time he finds a fan and equal in the chieftain’s coward brother, Orm. The two takes the village in a new direction, away from pillaging and wars. Now arts and culture is the thing, a thousands years early! Prioritizing the arts before war will prove to be a great challenge for the Viking villagers. And how will Rufus’ great skills in acting like a lady affect the tough Vikings?

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(Photo: NRK.)

Meanwhile, Norheim’s greatest warrior Arvid enjoys violent expeditions. As he discuss the situation with chieftain Olav, he realize that he is the only one who does not look forward to coming home. All his friends have something to come home to; a wife, a good farm, children and slaves. Arvid, however, has none of that since he chose to ravage and steal most of his life. Soon Arvid must fight a different battle, and must go from being a hero to being a farmer with a very demanding wife.

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(Photo: NRK.)

The Vikings deal with the harsh reality of the Viking age, but not in a serious or spectcular way like some of the more epic and violent Viking dramas as of late. The 6 episode series is basically a comedy with topics such as power struggle, gender roles, love and old traditions. -It’s the story of people from our time, but living during the Viking era. Of course everyday choices have far more dramatic consequences and that makes for great comedy material, producer Anders Tangen said.

Co-director and writer Jon Iver Helgaker said to the newspaper Dagbladet that he got the idea after having watched the vampire comedy What they do in the shadows. Various vampire movies and TV dramas like True Blood had sunk its fangs in our entertainment space, “and that’s when it is natural for comedy to be the next step” Helgaker said. He also saw TV shows such as Vikings and Game of Thrones as signs of why comedy in the same universe would be viable. -Epic and stupid are the two words I’d like to use to describe the series, he concluded, while also mentioning The Office as an inspiration.

(All photos: Copyright NRK.)

An English version of the TV series has been produced for foreign markets. Producer Anders Tangen (Lilyhammer, Dag) believes the “Monty Python meets Game of Thrones” spoof series will have international appeal. -It [also] allows us to bypass the remake option, plus Norwegian actors who speak fluently English can use this as a calling card to boost their international career, he said in a press statement. About the filming of the series, he explained: -Basically we shoot on average four takes for every scene, three takes in Norwegian and one in English, then we take the versions to the studios and work on lip synching to make each version cleaner. If it works, it will be revolutionary. We’re also [shot] 14 days in parallel to make the filming shorter, with two directors, so the cost for the entire series remains very low.

Public broadcaster NRK has already ordered a second season, currently shceduled to air in fall 2017. You’ll probably watch it if you can’t get enough of the urination in faces, drinking of spit and cutting off ears that are some of the jokes in season one. The Vikings is one of very few Viking TV dramas made in Scandinavia and the first since the sitcom Home to Midgard in 2003.

The Vikings, which was filmed over three months at a replica Viking farm at Avaldsnes in Karmøy in Western Norway, stars some of Norway’s most famous actors: Trond Fausa Aurvåg, Marian Saastad Ottesen, Nils Jørgen Kaalstad, Jon Øigarden, Kåre Conradi, Henrik Mestad, Kristine Riis, Ingar Helge Gimle and Silje Torp.

The series has been concieved, written and directed by Jonas Torgersen and Jon Iver Helgaker and will be shown on NRK’s website from October 14 (all episodes) and on TV from October 21.

Trailers and clips:

Trace preview

trace-posterFor 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.

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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.