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Tradition rules in Viking saga

Filmmaker Jeffrey Leiser knowingly abandons basic elements found in commercial movie hits by exploring his interests in Viking history and opera music for Freydis and Gudrid.  Audiences who equate all Norse legends with the Marvel Universe and Thor will find many challenges in Freydis and Gudrid.  Clearly a labor of love, the project mines material from Icelandic sagas, a storytelling tradition that kept locals entertained during the many dark hours of Norse winters. Leiser includes both the excitement and mundane aspects those old legends, whose roots spring from history and feature a surprising number of arguments and deaths. Leiser resists retooling the story to modern sensibilities, leaving open questions like why a mother leaves her son behind with a former enemy.  Reason? Because it happened that way in those old Vinland sagas of Erik the Red. Literary and history buffs can appreciate such adherence to folklore. That literary/history buff contingency can also enjoy shots filmed on location in Iceland. Granted, most of the low-budget project filmed in a Brooklyn studio and lacks elaborate, believable sets, but the stagey feel suits the concept, which includes another roadblock for mass audiences:  characters sing their dialogue in operatic form, often not particularly melodic. Though unlikely to find widespread popularity, Leiser’s project reflects love of a place and its traditions.

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