August 12, 2019  (Web Review)

Wild Way of the Vikings

(2019) 53 min. DVD: $24.99 ($54.99 w/PPR). PBS Video (www.teacher.shop.pbs.org). ISBN: 978-1-5317-0966-2.

Reviewer rating: 3.5/4

Filmmakers Nigel Pope and Jackie Savery’s PBS-aired Nature documentary presents a startling reinterpretation of Viking history. The legendary image of bloodthirsty Scandinavian marauders who brought wreckage and ruin to distant lands is here set aside for a much more holistic and environmentally-friendly depiction. Wild Ways of the Vikings celebrates the Vikings’ brilliance at long-distance navigation, including their arrival in Newfoundland around 1,000 A.D., which the film argues was due to their reliance on sea birds and killer whales to guide them through uncharted waters to a hitherto unknown continent. Furthermore, the Vikings are said to have had a deep respect for the wildlife in the lands they occupied, from running duck farms in Iceland to using every part of the bodies of the Norwegian reindeers that they hunted—leaving no waste and not engaging in indiscriminate violence during their hunts. Handsomely produced dramatic re-creations explore what this in-touch-with-nature concept of Viking life might have been like, with Scottish actor Ewan McGregor delivering solid narration. Serving up a provocative new celebration of Viking life, this is highly recommended. Aud: H, C, P. (P. Hall)