Customer Reviews: NOVA - The Vikings
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on August 24, 2006
Right from the beginning I must tell you that I am from Ireland and have studied the history of the Vikings for over 30 years - so naturally I have a slight bias on this subject. This programme is really an overview and introduction of the subject rather than any attempt at intrepreting the influence of the Vikings in the modern world. The evidence stressed is on the material culture and doesn't trace the vestiges of the influence of the Vikings in Europe in any detail - Although Iceland is well represented as being the last home of the Vikings. For instance the latest genetic studies showing present decendants of the Vikings were not even considered - there are such studies. The people of the Orkney and Shetland Islands were notintroduced although they have their own unique Norse language - Norn. The exploration of the Rus is well done and the route of the Vikings to Bagdad was eye-opening. I especially liked the modern attempt to trace the journey by serious historians and archaeologists using boats constructed in the fashion of the age depicted. The Viking influence in France and their transition to Normans is cosidered but again not well developed. From this documentary one would hardly realise that the Vikings had quite an influence on the Mediterranean...Sardinia, Sicily and North Africa are not mentioned. Northwest Scotland was profoundly impacted by the Vikings but again we hear little mention of this...Danelaw in England while mentioned is not accorded its colonial status. One gets the impression that Dublin was the only town in Ireland founded by the Vikings and that aside from the bare mention of discovery of the largest Viking ship found thus far having been built in Ireland of native timber...the largest and possibly the most important Viking settlement in the world - Wood Quay in Dublin is not covered. The documentary does not cover very significant recent finds in Ireland of Woodstown caves and in Cumbria (Northwest England) of possibly Britain's most important Viking burial addition to which another find in the same county close to Cumwhitton village.

History, out of necessity, needs to be interpreted with the most recent evidence available. I understand that a programme like Nova needs quite a lot of editing but seriously...hopefully Nova will revisit the subject of the Vikings again and this time address it from a more regional context. The reenactments are sparce and we see some scenes repeated...This programme could have used more reenactments to bring the subject to life. This show is still worth the money! I thoroughly enjoyed the production!
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on March 29, 2002
There is a lot to recommend this video for those who want a general history of Viking civilization and wanderings but some elements stand out as absent. Notable, that is, what happened to the Vikings as the modern era approached? Perhaps the totality of Viking civilization is not what the intentions of the film were set to describe. Were that the case the film is excellent. Remember this is simply one tape, perhaps many more tapes would be needed to encompass the whole of their history.
Norse civiliation is wonderful. With a written language, advanced metalurgy, tool making, and a civil law element that created a peaceful community. We can trace the advances to the present and the development of a wonderful civilivation that contributed to a world wide pool of knowlege. It's a shame that the Vikings frequently get passed over when in public schools, there is talk of multi-culturalism.
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VINE VOICEon December 11, 2008
This DVD is a well made production in the tradition of Nova. Generally well done, with a great deal of archeological fact to counter centuries of "bad press" in regards to a brave, industrious and adventurous people.

This documentary covers Viking history, alluding to the population pressures that drove these people to "go a viking". Covers their conquests and exploration to their west as well as their forays to the east into what is now Russia.

This is a very good introduction to the "viking age", but - imho - does not go as far as I would like to show not only what they did but also who they were. Given the length of television documentaries, this is somewhat understandable, but I would have liked to have seen them explore more of Norse culture, their art, manufacturing techniques (ship building was covered well, though), the role of women in society, etc.

This is a very good primer on the influence these people had on the late dark age/early medieval period and I reccomend it to those interested on the subject. I would hope that it would whet appetites for further reading on the subject.
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on August 19, 2011
Boy do I love reading books and watching videos about these guys! Two ships with only 120 men could storm a town of thousands, pillage it senseless, and get away clean to do it again 20 miles down coast. Once their ships were so full of booty they couldn't plunder another town, they headed home, only to have to worry about later-launching Vikings who might decide to plunder them! How such barbarism could be so effective for centuries without anyone finding a way to thwart them is a mystery to me, but there it is.
Another mystery is why all of "civilized" Europe stayed within comfortable sight of land, while only the Vikings had the courage to sail beyond the horizon, braving the monsters and the end of the earth. Some say it was just greed, but that greed had to be backed up with a lot of courage and skill. It took another 500 years before Columbus risked a western voyage.
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on August 7, 2006
As previously broadcast on public television, The Vikings is an episode of the educational series "NOVA" (offered community and school libraries in a DVD format which also offers access to the "NOVA" website, scene selection and closed captions features), about the historical impact and cultural legacy of the Vikings. Though scorned as marauding northern savages, and well-documented for their ruthless and brutal raids for riches and power, the Vikings were also expert shipbuilders, cunning merchants, skilled artisans, and daring colonizers of distant lands. Tracing clues that Vikings landed in North America 500 years before Columbus, ancient trading expeditions that led Vikings through Russia, and stunning Scandinavian artifacts, The Vikings strives to reveal the complete story of who the Vikings were and how they lived. 120 minutes, color.
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on September 2, 2014
Lots of great information. However, Live Shreiber is just reading and is so monotone and monotonous, I fell asleep three times watching this, and I am an insomniac. Worked better than a handful of melatonin ...... When I did watch it in its entirety- sound off, captions on, it was actually very factual and well done. I would prefer it to be politically correct and be called "Norse People" but right now, Viking is in vogue and its a slur to those of us who are Norsefolk. The thing about this documentary was that it was unbiased and did show all the artistic and technological advances the Norse contributed to Europe-and America. They have done nothing different from any advanced civilization- want a better life,study, share and implement technology, engage in commerce and trading, build permanent settlements and have agrarian livestyles and still raid when they needed to fund survival of community. I think if William Shatner or even Christopher Walken narrated this documentary, it would be a must see. There was much information and scholars and facts, but I was disappointed in the hypnotic narration. Schreiber is a good actor, he must have had an off day. Norse culture touches everyone. The days of the week are even named after Norse Gods/
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on June 16, 2005
OK, so this documentary isn't perfect, and doesn't cover everything about the vikings - you'll have to read some books for that, you cannot cram it all into a few hours.

But this documentary is truly excellent. They have much footage of people re-enacting viking times, not just battles as most documentaries focus on, but everyday life, working in the farm, chopping wood, building ships, something to look at as the narrator describes the various topics. Much footage of ships recreated and sailing around (fast, too).

Many experts in different fields, not just a single narrator yabbering on for a couple of hours (like some documentaries) ... different locations, and computer enhanced recreations of villages.

I do not hesitate to say that it is an absolute MUST HAVE for anyone interested in studying the vikings.

Buy it, you will be very pleased. I just wish it was on DVD.
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on December 18, 2012
It's NOVA so with any luck it's going to be somewhat above average. It was. I'd say the basic outline was done well enough along with enough curious detail to fill in parts of the picture, but as ever NOVA can be annoyingly general and incomplete in areas. I thought too much time was frittered on Vikings in North America. So what? Not much is known and nothing came of their effort so why dwell there? Give us more on the nuts and bolts of Viking agriculture and other known elements of the story.
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on October 12, 2013
I love all things Viking/ Germanic, so I may be biased on this, but I love having it in my collection. I have seen it on The Learning Channel a long time ago, like to watch it every six months or so :)
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on March 8, 2015
Very good. We really liked it. It was extremely informative and educational. We like the NOVA series and this one did not disappoint us. It had much more information than we've gotten on the Viking history from any other sources so far. I would definitely recommend it.
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