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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Friday 5 August 2011

The Vikings

A bit of film nostalgia. The Vikings is a film starring Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis and Ernest Borgnine and based on the novel The Viking by Edison Marshall. It claimed to be based on legendary material from the sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons. The film used great locations in Norway although Aella's castle was the real Fort de la Latte in north-east Brittany.

This was one of those films that make the partners of military history buffs groan. You know the scenario. A night out at the cinema, your turn to choose, so of course it's an historical film. What do you do? Yes, you moan that the medieval armour isn't right, the tanks weren't even built in WW2 etc. I once loudly complained during Braveheart,  when my partner swooned at the seduction of the English Princess by Wallace, that given their historical ages he would have been arrested today as a paedophile. Not the most popular comment at at the first showing of the film in Scotland!

Well this film had all the faults you can imagine. Medieval castles, 12thC armour, horned Viking helmets and much more nonsense. Still a good tale and what do I know, because it was a great box office success.

This film came to mind when I was in France visiting the castle they used in the film. Fort de la Latte is on the Brittany coast west of St Malo. Incidentally another very well preserved set of fortifications. Whatever the historical failings of the film this is a well preserved 13th Century castle in a great setting. Well worth a visit, although hopefully not on a day as wet as the one we had. I can also recommend the fishing village of Erquy, a little further along the coast, if you like fish for dinner. The scallops were excellent.

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