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How can you not love a movie where both Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis supposedly sprang from the loins of Ernest Borgnine? Well, THE VIKINGS ($15) offers movie fans that and a whole heck of a lot more in big screen entertainment. THE VIKINGS is a rousing action/adventure movie with impressive battle scenes staged by director Richard Fleischer, plus the film features the gorgeous Technicolor cinematography of the one and only Jack Cardiff. The plot of THE VIKINGS concerns the Norsemen’s raids upon the various kingdoms that comprise the England of the ninth century. During such a raid, Viking leader Ragnar (Ernest Borgnine) kills the king and rapes the queen of one such kingdom. With no clear heir to that kingdom, Aella (Frank Thring) assumes the throne, thus forcing the deposed queen to send the bastard child of her union with Ragnar off into hiding.

Twenty years pass, with the Vikings continuing their raids against the English coast. Ragnar’s handsome son Einar (Kirk Douglas) will someday lead his people, but an encounter with a proud slave named Eric (Tony Curtis) leaves his face scarred and forever changes his destiny. With the aid of an English conspirator, Egbert (James Donald), Einar kidnaps Morgana (Janet Leigh), the beautiful Welsh princess who is to marry King Aella. However, instead of collecting the ransom, Einar decides to take Morgana as his Viking queen. With the aid of Eric, Morgana is able to escape back to England, but this only intensifies the feud between Einar and Eric- whom we learn are half brothers. The cast of THE VIKINGS also includes Alexander Knox, Maxine Audley and Eileen Way.

MGM Home Entertainment has made THE VIKINGS available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. THE VIKINGS was shot in Technirama and printed in the old IB Technicolor process- this film is an excellent example of why this particular combination was capable of producing some of the most glorious wide screen imagery of all time. The DVD produces an image that is out and out gorgeous, the vistas of the Norwegian location photography are especially stunning. Almost everything on screen appears wonderfully crisp and highly detailed, although the sequences utilizing fog and filters do appear somewhat softer. Colors are representative of the old IB Technicolor process, in other words, lush and intensely saturated. Exteriors are impressively colored; however, Jack Cardiff’s beautifully lit interiors allow the hues in the costumes and set dressings to really stand out. Blacks have a velvety quality and the picture registers with very smooth contrast. The dual layer DVD doesn’t display any noticeable signs of digital compression artifacts.

THE VIKINGS is offered on DVD with a Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Sound quality is very good for a film from 1958, although the frequency limitations in the recordings are rather apparent. Still, there isn’t any noticeable distortion or background hiss, making the track well worth amplifying for Mario Nascimbene’s wonderful score. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced without any intelligibility problems. French and Spanish monaural soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a couple of extras. Running twenty-eight minutes is A Tale Of Norway With Director Richard Fleischer. This is a recent on camera interview with the director, who shares his memories of the film, as well as behind-the-scenes photographs and production images. A theatrical trailer is also included on the DVD.

THE VIKINGS is wonderful, old style motion picture entertainment that features big stars, plenty of action and incredibly beautiful cinematography. MGM’s DVD edition of THE VIKINGS is superb looking, plus it offers some very good extras and is available at a bargain price. For these reasons, THE VIKINGS is a must have DVD for every movie buff out there.


The Vikings (1958)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2002 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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