Movie Review: “To Go Viking” Is An Eye-Opening Film About Modern Viking Groups

"The documentary was well crafted and brought lots of unimaginable images to life."


 

Follow the spectacular journey of a Viking Age group (Texas’ Jomsborg Elag), as they make their way across Europe, where they participate in massive-scale Viking re-enactments and a series of epic competitive battles, including full contact fighting.

If you think re-enacting is just a weekend gig then “To Go Viking” by Matt Poitras will open your eyes. The film has lots of characteristics of an action movie. Intense combat shot at exotic locations. Ancient weapons, sailing vessels, bustling marketplaces and shrines highlight the film. There is even blood and injuries. Those characteristics are in a film that is quite different from an action movie.

The Viking group the documentary follows could easily play a major role in a Viking blockbuster. Accuracy and details are a point of pride in the authentic costumes, armor and weapons used by the group. Dedication is what the group member brings to the team. Dedication in the form of training and travel. I wouldn’t expect a group like the Jomsborg Elag to come out of Texas but the unexpected is what makes this film special.

The highlight is the combat! Which is as realistic as it can be under a few rules. Rules are needed for safety, scoring and avoiding chaos. However the combat wouldn’t be so incredible without the Vikings honing their skills through dedicated training. The battles need the right weapons. Weapons recreated to pass as weapons from the golden age of the Vikings. The weapons and the fighting wouldn’t look right without costumes which takes the audience away to a distant time. These parts of the group complement each other to create a wholeness that is creative and authentic.

Certainly the film will do well in niche target markets interested in geek topics like real life role playing, re-enactors, and Vikings. Curiosity seekers like myself will come away with a better appreciation of the men and woman behind the costumes. I was impressed by their commitment which came across well in the documentary. Some of the costumes I couldn’t imagine someone training in the Texas heat wearing them.

The documentary was well crafted and brought lots of unimaginable images to life. Minor flaws to me were a couple of awkward silences in the film. The strengths of the film were catching the magic of the locations and the authenticity of the group. If the mission of the documentary was to share insight on this Viking group, the show delivered. Perhaps Texas is not a historic Norse realm of the Vikings but in “To Go Viking” it is a place where the Viking spirit is brought back to glory!

Available now on VOD

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5 Comments on this post.

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  • Xenophaige
    29 November 2016 at 3:12 AM

    As a re-enactor I can guarantee you that a lot of those costumes are NOT fully accurate and their combat gear is barely accurate. So I don’t understand where their pride in accuracy come from.

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  • Bryan
    10 June 2015 at 2:25 PM

    bought it the day of its release in the U.S. inspired me to start the same thing, i almost have all my armor, started a leather crafting business, and joined a reenactment guild to learn more about the combat. some people were meant to live in a different time.

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    • IrishFilmCritic
      11 June 2015 at 6:26 PM

      I agree Bryan. I think it’s thrilling to re-enact battles from long ago, wearing the exact same clothing and using the exact same type of weapons.

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      • D H
        13 June 2015 at 6:10 PM

        “I think it’s thrilling to re-enact battles from long ago, wearing the exact same clothing and using the exact same type of weapons.”
        Why? What does one get out of celebrating death and carnage?

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        • K M
          28 November 2016 at 2:26 PM

          It’s not so much about celebrating death and carnage as it seems at first glance. It is about preserving history much like Asian martial arts. It celebrates a rich, diverse and often misunderstood culture. Martial prowess is important but worthless without the dedication to something bigger than one’s self. That’s what “To Go Viking” is about. Preserving history through honor, courage, dedications and community.

          It is not for the faint of heart. But then again, nothing meaningful ever is.

          KM

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