Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Viking: Russian history for mainstream global audiences

Hello, commies and Russian history buffs!

With a budget of almost 21 million, Viking was the third most expensive Russian film. What exactly can you expect for that kind of money? More of the same old, pretty much. It better be the proverbial 100 dollar bill to be "liked by everyone".

My feelings prior to watching “Viking” were mixed to say the least. Cautiously optimistic but mostly skeptical. A part of me rejoiced at the prospect of seeing Russian history marketed to a global audience. At the same time, I knew not to expect anything too authentic, too meaty, too technical or scholarly that would alienate average viewers. Of course, the script and the execution had to be stripped of everything too ethnic, too Slavic, to make it more palatable for those who know very little or nothing about Russia’s conversion to Christianity in the 10th century and the complex man behind it. For one, the title is misleading. It prepares you for a Nordic saga. And it is a Nordic saga to an extent, as it features certain Nordic warriors on the Russian territory. The title is slapped on to attract those viewers who normally would not give a Russian historical a chance. I am not going to judge the marketing team too harshly. My biggest complaint is that there is nothing imaginative or innovative about the cinematography. Maybe I am jaded from seeing too many CGI effects. “Viking” combines the same proven tricks that you expect in a superhero movie. The same washed out color scheme with occasional splashes of blood. The hunt sequence in slow motion in the opening scene. Female characters played by actresses with highlights and spray tan. Contrived sex scenes showcasing girl power to placate the feminist viewers. If you are not preoccupied with historical accuracy, if you gulp those Xerox epics on HBO, “Viking” is another predictable, forgettable, generic Hershey kiss to shove into your mouth.

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