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Historical hysterics: printing legends

07/02/2010

Smiling benevolently upon a huge and avid public supposedly waiting upon his every move with bated breath, Mel Gibson has put them out of their misery by announcing his next project. He is to produce and direct a film about vikings. Set in the 9th century. Authentically. In Old Norse*. [I’m holding my breath; you can tell, can’t you? If I exhale I shall collapse on the floor, helpless and crying with laughter.] Says Mel, “I am going to give you real.” [Long pause for me to finish wiping my eyes and get up off the floor.]
Coogoshlumme: ‘real’. Reality, is it? And 9th century reality to boot. Just what does that mean, and whose reality would that be? All will doubtless be revealed in the fullness of time, after endless publicity, controversy and dim actors speaking with admirable authority and perfect ignorance. Oooh, can’t wait. Let me see now, just what is The Great One’s track record when it comes to reality, mundane or otherwise? Well, there’s a whole load of … movies. These include at least two examples of historical shandygaff. One of them departing so far from the known facts that it is capable of giving even the most cynically, venally careerist of telly-historians if not heart failure then a Very Nasty Turn. On the basis of this evidence I assume we can take it that reality – let alone ‘real’ or ‘authentic’ – is unlikely to make even so much as a token appearance in the final reel.  ‘Print the legend,’ and to hell with the consequences.  And why should the film-makers worry? After all, it’s not their history that’s being thoroughly traduced.
So we might expect to see huge fierce vikingerne leaping around like Olympic athletes, redecorating various

"Is this your fight, or can anyone join in?" (Images from Commons Wiki)

tax-efficient locations with blood and body parts and forcing themselves upon everybody else’s womenfolk. Any Anglo-Saxons – and there are bound to be plenty, given Mel’s self-evident contempt for England – will be easily identifiable: the psycho tendancy, status clearly designated, given to binge-drinking mead and saying f*** a lot. There will also be odd – very odd – little enclaves of Celts around, distinguishable from the other ethnic groups because they are without exception small, stocky, dark and tattooed. Oh, and they all speak Welsh. Unless they’re Irish, of course (let’s not get started on what these characters could do to 9th century Scotland at this stage, eh?).
And how will all this polyglot crew make themselves understood by us? You’ve got there already, haven’t you?
Subtitles!
But of course.  And, oh, joy!

[EXT. Day. Sea. Viking ship with, er, vikings in it. ]
Bent Bloodaxe, the Mighty:    “Hey dudes, there’s the coast of, like, the Isle of Little Britain!”
Søren Littlemummysboy (not so mighty, then): “Like, wow! Like, totally awesome! Rape, shock ‘n’ awe ‘n’ pillage! Monks on islands and stuff – holy shit!”
BB the M: [smacking SLMB around the head] “Nah, asshole! That’s the home of the North Saxons who, like, walk around half-nekkid keeling hauls an’ shit… “
Nils the Equal-Ops Rapist (guaranteed non-gender biased, racist or ageist & presenting a range of sexual preferences that would surprise Krafft-Ebing): “No, guys, guys – hey, peace ‘n’ luurve [laughs gruesomely, revealing suspiciously perfect dentition considering his age and probable diet]. That’s Northumbria – this is, like, Nor-folk …”
Seamless O’Macgillicuddy’s Reeks (villainous and amoral Irish mercenary and traitor, superhumanly mighty and motivated by greed, lust, etc – ie ideal viking -  but destined to turn over new leaf due to Terrible Tragedy and thereafter be … Mel G!): “Harharhar, begob an’ be de hokey – as someone once said, ‘very flat, Norfolk’. And as me dear little auld Mammy (God bless her!) would say, ‘Sure an’ isn’t that the great class of country altogether, just grand for the slaughterin’ of th’ Anglo-Saxon hoors, so it is’!”
BB the M: “Yada, yada, yada – whatever. Your little old mom, right? So, like, that’ll be the little old lady you sold to the Phoenicians in exchange for a fake Byzantine jewelled dagger?”
SOMR: [looks shifty, shuffles a bit, lifts mantle to reveal striped cotton boxer shorts and scratches his bum] “Weeeel …”
[All fall about laughing with exception of SLMB, who falls off boat having been given a surreptitious tactical shove by SOMR. The others gather around to watch with interest, noisily laying bets on how long it will take SLMB to drown.]

Doubtless the whole appalling enterprise will prove a huge hit – thanks at least in part to buckets of blood, the presence of ravishing maidens sporting varnished nails and mascara, and all the rest of the dreadful charivari to be unleashed upon screens of all sizes. Oh, plus all of the villains will be played by English actors; the ‘good guys’ by  … yawn. Time for a nice lie-down. Wake me up when the vikings have all gone, would you?

Ah, you couldn’t make it up, could you? No? Er …

* H/T Medieval News

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