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Erik the Red still worships the pagan Norse gods, Thor and Odin. Early in the film, we see him savagely axe-murder a Christian convert discovered among his own men. During the subsequent homecoming banquet sequence in Greenland, Leif, who has recently converted to Christianity in Norway, confronts his father’s violent temper. Once Leif has been goaded into revealing his own Christian conversion at the feast, Eric throws a broad axe across the room toward his son’s head, missing its target by inches.
Anderson argued that between 986 and the fourteenth century a series of Norse adventurers had explored and settled America. ”11 The most successful writer of turn-of-the-century Scandinavian historical fiction was Ottilie A. Liljencrantz, a Scandinavian American Anglo-Saxonphile who was born and based in Chicago. She wrote at least two Viking novels set in Vinland, The Vinland Champions in 1904 and The Thrall of Leif the Lucky: A Story of Viking Days in 1902. Jack Cunningham’s screenplay for Technicolor’s The Viking had been very loosely based on this latter scandinavian/american whiteface 43 literary work.
The film melds the Viking noble stock of Helga Nilsson with the AngloSaxon pedigree of Lord Alwin to mark the origins of a Nordic race in American nationhood. ” The Nordic warriors of this idealized lost past fit into patterns of biological essentialism that more contemporary Scandinavian immigrants and ethnics would not manage as easily. racializing vinland 37 two Scandinavian/American Whiteface Ethnic Whiteness and Assimilation in Victor Sjöström’s He Who Gets Slapped w hile the viking appropriated the vinland sagas to shore up biological and essentialist concepts of Nordic whiteness in the “discovery” of America, other silent-era films in 1920s Hollywood cinema engage more directly with Scandinavian whiteness.