PBS // 2012 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 30th, 2012
Vikings are awesome. Swords are awesome. PBS has its moments.
It's no great secret the Vikings were infamous for their steely swordcraft and exceptional pillaging. Now NOVA devotes an entire hour-long program to their violent shenanigans and, more specifically, the tool of their trade: the fearsome Ulfberht sword.
The source of the name "Ulfberht" is mysterious, just an inscription on the sword. But with the full force of NOVA's eggheads behind it, an investigation is launched to unravel the secrets of the sword, and discover why it was such a game-changer back in the day.
The sword is infamous for its build. The weapon is easy to maneuver, brutally sharp, and built so strong it's "virtually indestructible." These were, of course, vital attributes for a weapon used in the Viking's blood-soaked manner of warfare, namely, lining up against each other and hacking away with quick powerful strikes until the opponent's shield is decimated and his skull is split in twain.
As NOVA examines the sword, a swordsmith from the Midwest is given the opportunity to forge a replica in the fires of Hell itself, testing out his creation on tomatoes and slabs of meat. The result? A newfound respect for the engineering advances of the Vikings. Turns out the sword was far ahead of its time, made in a way that would be common only hundreds of years later.
I've already said too much. If you find this period of time compelling -- like I do -- take Secrets of the Viking Sword for a spin. The execution is up to the typically excellent standards of NOVA, with experts chiming in and re-enactments woven through to provide context. A solid 60 minutes of not only Viking sword trivia, but a generous Viking info-dump.
The DVD: standard def 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby 2.0 Stereo,
English SDH subtitles, and no extras.
Not Guilty. Everyone to the shield wall!
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Not Rated