Almost all expensive and large-scale USA films are haunted by the same ghost, sometimes caused by the statements of the creators and actors, and sometimes by the audience, for whom it is vitally important to compare the new cinema with something already seen. So over and over again "USA versions" of the leaders of the world distribution and "our answers" to Hollywood blockbusters appear on the screens.|
One more rake is prepared for historical films: any plot telling about the most important events of the past days will fall victim to historical and ideological criticism. A painful attitude towards the distant and not quite past arises due to the absence of at least some settled comprehension of history, and its consequence is a furious intolerance to free interpretations of facts. " Viking " by Konstantin Ernst and Anatoly Maksimov, of course, again exposed this problem.
Unfortunately, the drama filmed by Andrey Kravchuk managed to step on both garden tools at the same time. Comparisons with popular TV projects, where there are real Vikings, led by Ragnar , blood, intrigue, betrayal, nudity and intricate Game of Thrones, will not go in favor of the film under discussion. Moreover, they are simply inaccurate. The domestic champion of the box office is more like a large-scale peplum dedicated to one person and a specific historical event.
Although the project, as expected, presents to the viewer all the significant chronicle characters of the end of the 10th century, its heroes, except for Prince Vladimir ( Danila Kozlovsky ), have a completely clear, striking functional essence. The most striking example of undisguised "usefulness" for the narrative was the princely governor and warrior Sveneld ( Maxim Sukhanov ), who is also the voiceover narrator in the film.
At the same time, the image created by Sukhanov is the most memorable of all the supporting characters. A dense, powerful, old warrior is distinguished by prudence and cruelty. He is a real mentor and a gray cardinal, who knows how to educate the Grand Duke in order not only to hold out in power for a longer time, but also to ensure reliable government, backed by strength and cunning. In this regard, the authors' fantasies turned out to be only a continuation of the line of the real personality of Sveneld . At least, the person we know thanks to the fragmentary information of " Tale of Bygone Years ".
Only the blonde Rogneda performed by the beautiful Alexandra Bortich, who has previously played in a duet with Kozlovsky - in the second part of the drama "Duhless", can be compared with him. She, like Sveneld , symbolizes the barbaric, rough, pagan side of Vladimir . But in the girl there is some kind of almost natural savagery, sexuality and very terrible demonicity. The first, "pagan" wife of Vladimir several times tries to kill him, and during one of the attempts she appears in a state of religious hypnosis, smeared with the blood of a sacrificial animal.
It's a shame that only two minor characters can be noted out of all, played by no less famous actors, stars of USA cinema. The men here are dressed in almost identical suits and beards, and the women disappear behind their huge backs. The heroes communicate with overly pretentious or melodramatic phrases, shout or cry in pictures, as if becoming a part of large-scale scenery for the character of Kozlovsky : here is a traitor, but here is a forgiven avenger, she is a righteous widow, and he is a pious paladin. By the way, a deeply religious warrior is a stunningly unrecognizable and still faded Vladimir Epifantsev. Of course, the root of the problem lies not so much in the actors as in the weakness of the characters themselves.
The only scene characterized by lively, warm and strong emotions is the repentance of Vladimir in a Greek temple during the adoption of a new faith. It stands out so strongly against the background of medieval coldness, detachment and gloom, so noticeably creates an emphasis in the narrative that its finale and the next ten minutes of the epilogue look somewhat artificial.
Vladimir is presented as a good, fair young ruler who now and then falls under the bad influence of his own detachment of Viking mercenaries (who seem to be woven into the plot only in order to somehow explain the very inappropriate title of the film ), then the cruel Sveneld . Dragged into a whirlwind of events, he tries to resist them and seek the truth hidden from the eyes of all his associates. Both do not work out very well, therefore, the formation of a warrior as a grand duke and the adoption of Christianity according to the Greek model, apparently, is part of divine intervention. As well as torrential rains, which twice saved his people from certain death. Actually, without the intervention from above, the leader depicted in the film simply would not have survived in the depicted dirty and ferocious Middle Ages. A frankly gentle hero Kozlovsky is rather weak for the world of wooden fortresses, heavy armor, untouched roads, broken squares and bloodthirsty giant idols, captured in the most depressing shades of gray and dull blue colors.
The deliberately poor and barbaric world of " Viking " is nevertheless beautiful, although there are not many really memorable scenes in it. And the only thing that a spectator who is bored because of the monotony of the presentation of the story and is confused because of its abruptness can amuse himself is the search for borrowings from Western historical shows and films, which, of course, are here. Although, I must say, they are woven into the story very discreetly.
As a result, the version of the events of a thousand years ago, submitted in " Viking ", turned out to be cautious, even despite the fact that the film has an adult rating of 18+. There are few really frank scenes in the film, and perhaps there are no shocking or naturalistic-bloody scenes at all. In addition, the free treatment of the chronicle material and the rejection of claims for reliability allowed the authors to avoid especially terrible moments from the prince's biography. The film's easy-to-read moral message speaks of forgiveness, redemption, and human change, and humanization, even in an extremely hostile environment. But he also reminds us that the past never leaves anyone for good, leaving its traces even with a transformation that is obvious at first glance.
“ Viking ” cannot be deprived of its spectacularity, just as you cannot add elegance and fascination to it with all the will. The result is a vivid example of the union of sensible production work and an ingenious advertising campaign, a blockbuster that, if it becomes the subject of heated debate, it is not because of its artistic value, but because of the choice of theme and bold interpretation of historical events.
The Topic of Article: Public history. Review of the film ”Viking”.