Friday, February 09, 2007

The Fury of the Vikings

I saw a nice curiosity at the Finnish Film Archive last Monday: the horror classic Mario Bava's The Fury of the Vikings (or The Invaders or Erik the Conqueror, in Finnish, Viikinkien kosto) from 1961. It was the other of the two viking films Bava made in the early sixties.

The film was quite nice, very atmospheric and fabulously shot. Some of the frames were very nicely staged and Bava really knew how to use Cinemascope, with open sea looming at the back. The fight scenes were expertly cut and they hid the low budget astonishingly. The plot should've been better, some of the stuff happening went by all too fast and some of the action wasn't explained enough. The Finnish copy from the sixties was in a bad shape and, especially during the first reel, all the dark objects on the screen seemed to be bursting into flames. I was bugged to see some of the people take a camp approach to the film, even though there weren't any reasons as the film was pretty fluent and well-made (and I'm beginning to get fed up with camp attitude: it's arrogant and obnoxious and so last week).
While it's been pretty obvious to some horror and other genre buffs for many years or even decades now, I've been slowly realizing that the history of cinema is not just a cavalcade of artistic non-genre masterpieces, but it's also, and maybe more essentially so, the history of popular films and popular film-making where there are no deep, hidden messages in the films. I liked this a lot better than some of, say, Fellini's films from the seventies. The magnificent set pieces were there, but there was more dramatic drive in Bava than in Fellini (and in Fellini's films, say Casanova or Satyricon they shout all the time). Well, of course this was mostly eye-candy, but there was also artistic expression blown to full.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm a Bava fan as well, if not to Tim Lucas's extent. I look forward to seeing more of his non-horror work.