Viking Influences Today: Movies, Music and Games

Today we’re going to have a bit more of a laid back post looking at the impact of Vikings and Norse Mythology in popular culture. Books of course play a massive role but I reckon we’ve touched on them alot, and will continue to do so throughout the event.

Skål!


Movies

In recent years, TV series such as Vikings and The Last Kingdom aswell as the introduction of Thor into the Marvel Cinematic Universe has brought Vikings and Norse Mythology further into the public consciousness.

Last year, Screenrant made a list of their top 10 Viking movies of all time. You can find that article here. What strikes me though is that there aren’t actually many recently popular or big budgeted Viking movies – could you even count Thor? I guess, given all the Norse Mythology (though plenty of creative liberties) – and Loki becoming the good guy in the end is basically a complete reversal of his mythology. Regardless, it has undoubtedly had an effect on the overall interest level.

What I did find though is that despite the lack of many blockbusters, there are quite a few B movies. I haven’t watched any of them, yet. It would be interesting to hear your thoughts and recommendations though as although smaller movies sometimes lack the effects of the triple A release, they’re often made by passionate and dedicated filmmakers who pay more care to historical accuracy. Saying that, in this case it was difficult to find any above a 5/10 on IMDb!!

Despite the surprising struggle, here are three movies not on Screenrant’s list you might like to check out:

Northmen – A Viking Saga (2014)

Shipwrecked in a strange land, marauding Vikings must battle a band of mercenaries after kidnapping the daughter of a Scottish king.

Beowulf and Grendel (2005)

A Danish king (Stellan Skarsgard) recruits a foreign warrior (Gerard Butler) to battle the vengeful son (Ingvar E. Sigurdsson) of a slaughtered troll.

Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King (2004)

This made-for-TV movie chronicles the adventures of an orphaned blacksmith named Erik who, unknown to him, is actually the heir to a conquered kingdom. In the course of his adventures, he battles with and then wins the heart of Norse warrior Queen Brunhild and slays the dragon Fafnir. After slaying the dragon, Erik (whose birth name is Siegfried) learns that the dragon’s blood makes him invincible, and that his reward is a huge treasure. Of course there’s a catch — the treasure is cursed, and threatens his relationship with Brunhild.


Music

Vikings are sometimes associated with heavy metal, which makes sense when you think about it – big aggressive bearded men, with axes of a different sort! I’m playing into stereotypes a little here. But there are loads of music artists that evoke viking imagery, take inspiration from Viking culture or Norse Mythology, or in fact make their own Viking style music. Despite metal and hard rock probably being my favourite music genres and metal being the unofficial music of the Vikings, I’ve tried to make sure the list has some variety, despite so many awesome Viking metal bands.

Danheim

I love listening to Danheim when I’m reading Viking books or sometimes just chilling! Danheim is a Nordic folk/Viking inspired project from the Copenhagen-based Danish producer Mike Olsen. Danheim’s music is often composed of ideas and stories based on the darker side of the Viking period, inspired or consisting of Nordic Mythology, old Danish folklore, and a vivid imagination. Honestly so atmospheric and awesome!

Wardruna

Wardruna are a Norwegian folk group formed in 2003. They are dedicated to creating musical renditions of Norse cultural and esoteric traditions, and make significant use of Nordic historical and traditional instruments including deer-hide frame drums, flutes, kraviklyr, tagelharpe, mouth harp, goat horn, and lur. Non-traditional instruments and other sources of sound like trees, rocks, water, and torches are also used

Amon Amarth

Amon Amarth are a Swedish metal band that play heavily on their Viking roots. Viking themed song titles and stage displays as well as aggressive thrash metal adds to that whole Viking berserker tenacity that make you feel ready for battle.

Manowar

Manowar are a huge metal band who’ve been in the record books for both loudest performance and longest performance! Many of their songs are about Norse Mythology. Although based in the US, they have fans all around the world who can’t get enough of their Viking inspired anthems.

Heilung

Heilung are an experimental folk music band made up of members from Denmark, Norway, and Germany. Their music is based on texts and runic inscriptions from Germanic peoples of the Bronze Age, Iron Age, and Viking Age. Heilung describe their music as “amplified history from early medieval northern Europe”


Video Games

With the technology we possess in the modern day, video games are a great way to experience being a Viking from the comfort of your own chair, whether that’s commanding your army, wielding your axe or adding some fantasy elements and fighting a dragon.

Here are some of the best video games to unleash your inner Viking.

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla

The newly released and highly anticipated TWENTY SECOND release in the Assassin’s Creed series.

Set in 873 AD, the game recounts a fictional story during the Viking invasion of Britain. The player controls Eivor, a Viking raider who becomes embroiled in the conflict between the Brotherhood of Assassins and the Templar Order.

The Elder Scrolls – Skyrim

Considered one of the greatest games of all time, Skyrim’s main story revolves around the player’s character, the Dragonborn, on their quest to defeat Alduin the World-Eater – a dragon who is prophesied to destroy the world. The game is set 200 years after the events of Oblivion and takes place in Skyrim, the northernmost province of Tamriel, which is heavily influenced by Norse culture and medieval Scandinavia.

Crusader Kings III

I’ve spent a lot of hours on this game since its launch in September (most of them trying to learn how to play it)! Once you learn the basics it’s incredibly unique and rewarding. Like its predecessors Crusader Kings and Crusader Kings II, it is a grand strategy game and dynasty simulator set in the Middle Ages. You can start in either 867 or 1066 and play until 1453.

My personal favourite is playing as any of the sons of Ragnar in 867 and attempting to unite the Empire of Scandinavia, taking control of Britain and Ireland if I can, too. There are no on screen battlefields or chances to wield a sword; it’s all about diplomacy, power, subterfuge and carrying on the family line, ruling in succession over a period of centuries. You can do all manner of different things – murder a rival’s heir, make crafty marriage alliances, even create a new religion or smash the medieval patriarchy and make matrilineal marriages the ones with the power and women the ones who are first in the line of succession.

Total War: Thrones of Britannia

I love the Total War series. You can conduct diplomacy and plans for expansion but the meat and bones is the units and battle strategies you deploy.

This one takes places on the islands of Britain and Ireland after Alfred the Great defeated the Viking invaders. Players assume control of various factions including Vikings, British clans and Anglo-Saxons, and compete against each other to be the new king. In the game, players command different military units and it’s almost like an advanced game of rock paper scissors in the way that certain types of unit are stronger against others, and utilising them as best you can.

With the overwhelming popularity of the phenomenal Warhammer Total War games (in which the Norsca faction is the Viking equivalent) the attention on other total war games has lessened somewhat. That doesn’t take anything away from this smaller total war game that packs in all the history of the time period brilliantly.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a dark fantasy crossing many types of gaming genres. Inspired by Norse mythology and Celtic culture, the game follows Senua, a Pict warrior who must make her way to Helheim by defeating otherworldly entities and facing their challenges, in order to rescue the soul of her dead lover from the goddess Hela.


Althingi

A Viking Board Game of strength and influence

Althingi is a completed board game currently looking for backers on Kickstarter. You can check it out here!

Take on the role of a powerful Icelandic Chieftain and vie for influence and power in a card game for up to 4 people. It’s from Joshua Gillingham and Outland Entertainment – so you know it’s gonna be good! I’ll have more to come in the coming week about this exciting looking game, so stay tuned!


Hope you enjoyed the post today. Any suggestions or thoughts, you know where to find me!

4 thoughts on “Viking Influences Today: Movies, Music and Games

  1. I‘d like to add „American Gods“, which has Odin and Loki in central roles (though not obvious from the start) – both novel and series on Amazon Prime are great stuff.
    And as a game, I recommend the newest God of War on PS4, where you wander all parts of Norse mythological world, meet Yggdrasil, the Gods, and some other mythological figures.

    Liked by 1 person

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