How Vikings Pulled Off That Impressive Boat-Moving Sequence
IGN – Ragnar’s attack on Paris might be ill-advised, but his plan to strike at the city strategically is pretty sound. After suffering a defeat against Rollo in “The Profit and the Loss,” the king of Kattegat quickly devised a new plan that, according to showrunner Michael Hirst, is firmly cemented in fact.
“My historical consultant said, ‘You know, if there was an obstruction on the river when the Vikings were going river raiding and they couldn’t get around the obstruction, they would dismantle the boats and carry them around the mountains and put them back on the other side,’ so we did that,” Hirst said of the scene. “It’s easy for me to do. I just write it, it’s two lines: ‘They carry their boats over the mountain.'”
Ultimately the Vikings team was able to translate Hirst’s short description into a reality. Shooting near Vikings’ Ireland set, the creative team actually made the pulley system that hoisted the boats over the side of the cliff and then the system that allowed the boats to roll over the logs.
“I don’t get on set that much these days, but I went up to see them when they were filming,” Hirst recalled. “We film everything within a 30-mile radius of here, but it means we have lots of different landscapes. I got on set and there were hundreds of people and hundreds of extras, and they were hauling a boat up a cliff face for real.”
Marveling at the physicality of the Vikings crew, Hirst glowed about their determination to bring this impressive sequence to life. While there was a modern crane holding up the boat so it didn’t fall, the crew did develop a real pulley and rope system that was a reproduction of what vikings would have used at the time.
There were hundreds of guys hauling this thing up a cliff face, a boat — I don’t know how many tons it weighs — and it was going up. And they said, ‘Michael, come to the top of the cliff,’ and so I walk to the top of the cliff,” he said. “What I said in the script — and what they did — is they would clear a path through the forest, and with the trunks of the trees that they cut they would make a roadway so the boats could be hauled over the trunks and rolled over. … They’d cut a mile of trees, and they were hauling another boat through the forest. It was just unbelievable. It makes me so proud. It’s fantastic.”
This is all part of Ragnar’s plan to conquer Paris — and, of course, face of with Rollo again. Hirst promises that the final battle between them is “not just one episode,” and that it’s “absolutely amazing.” More ship battles on the horizon, perhaps?