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Tag Archive: Gabriel Byrne


Today marks the first day of a new streaming service, Ovid.tv, a film access platform combining the efforts of eight U.S. independent film distributors.  The new service is one effort to fill the gap left behind by the demise of FilmStruck, a favorite of cinephiles that was closed down by AT&T after acquiring Time Warner.  Initial film distributors providing content to Ovid.tv include First Run Features, Women Make Movies, Bullfrog Films, The dGenerate Films Collection, Distrib Films US, Grasshopper Film, Icarus Films, and KimStim, with more companies expected to add content to the service.  The goal of the platform is to provide North American viewers access to thousands of titles not yet available on other streaming platforms.  Initial content includes several of filmdom’s best documentaries, and on Day One more than 350 films are available for immediate streaming.

In a trial run of the platform, we immediately took in a screening of the award-winning film 56 Up, which has been called the greatest use ever for the film medium.  It’s simply one of the best dramas ever captured on-screen.  We reviewed it seven years ago here at borg, and now is a perfect time to screen the film for the first time, or to watch it again, as director/producer Michael Apted has recently wrapped the next segment in the film series, 63 Up, expected to be released later this year.  We also found The Penguin Counters streaming on Ovid.tv, a great film previously reviewed here at borg.  Social issues, auteur filmmakers, and foreign and domestic art house features fill out the initial round of content, including the works of filmmakers like Chantal Akerman, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Patricio Guzman, Heddy Honigmann, Chris Marker, Ross McElwee, Bill Morrison, Raoul Peck, Jean Rouch, Wang Bing, and Travis Wilkerson.  Works of others are expected to be added in the coming months, from the likes of Bi Gan, Pedro Costa, Claire Denis, Bruno Dumont, Cheryl Dunye, Philippe Garrel, Nikita Mikhalkov, Eric Rohmer, Raul Ruiz, Dominga Sotomayor, and Jean-Marie Straub.

Notable fiction features available today include the independent production mystery I, Anna, starring Charlotte Rampling and Gabriel Byrne, the Japanese horror film Creepy by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, the award-winning The Widowed Witch by Cai Chengjie, and Shoehei Imamura’s 1967 film, A Man Vanishes.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

After the first few episodes of Vikings you will find yourself asking why this is only a nine-episode mini-series.  The History Channel’s first historical fiction mini-series since the acclaimed Hatfields & McCoys, the new series Vikings takes stunning locations, a powerful score, and a good story steeped in Nordic mythology and creates an epic production on par with Braveheart, Rob Roy, 300, and Attila.  And it’s even better than Game of Thrones.

Everyone has their own view of what Vikings should look like.  We know from documentaries and books that these warriors in the late eighth century were plunderers and pillagers.  They lived in a style as you’d find people roaming your local Renaissance Faire, clothing of wools and furs and hide.  Weapons of steel, shields of oak and longboats whose appearance would strike fear in hearts of the enemy.  Whether the History Channel has every historical detail down is beside the point.  Vikings is completely believable and true enough to the ancient sagas of fierce warriors, gods of every stature, and clan intrigue.

Life on a Viking longboat in Vikings series

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Several great pieces of episodic historical fiction have made it to the small screen, including Band of Brothers, Winds of War, Hatfields & McCoys, Roots, From the Earth to the Moon, and Horatio Hornblower.  But we haven’t seen much by way of Vikings in TV or movies other than the BBC’s Ivanhoe, various Beowulf adaptations, the 1958 movie The Vikings with Tony Curtis or Brian’s Song (OK, the last one doesn’t count).  Now the History Channel has produced a new TV series called simply Vikings.

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Vikings follows Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) in a story pulled from the characters and events in the Nordic epic Ragnar’s Saga.  On his path to ruler, Ragnar and his Viking band of brothers face battles with opposing tribes as well as his own lord Jarl Haraldson, played by Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, Assault on Precinct 13, Excaliber, Christopher Columbus, Lionheart, Shipwrecked, A Simple Twist of Fate). 

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This series pretty much sneaked up on us–we haven’t seen much by way of promotion but once we did the production values appear to be right up there with similar epic historical works like Braveheart, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Rob Roy, Last of the Mohicans, Beowulf, 300, Dances with Wolves or even Henry V.  And the History Channel is the same creative team that put out all the great A&E mini-series like Pride and Prejudice so it brings with it high expectations.

Vikings on History Channel warship

And what great ships and costumes!  Check out these previews for the new series, Vikings:

Episode 1 of Vikings airs March 3, 2013 on the History Channel.  More information on the series can be found at the History Channel website.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com