Following worldwide criticisms, KRU admits new film is 'just a fantasy, not history', only to be further slated by Norse expert.
Mythologist Karl EH Seigfried pointed out that KRU had promoted the film as ‘a collision of myth and history’, and that they (KRU) claimed to have flown “to the Scandinavian countries to recce, visit libraries to read up on Viking lore and speak to the locals”.
“You have now sold out your own film company, I think,” Seigfried said in an open letter, referring to director Yusry Abdul Halim’s statement that the film “is just fantasy and not produced from actual history.”
“On the movie’s official website, KRU Studios calls the film ‘a collision of myth and history’. It also says the movie is ‘based on viking legends and the epic poems they left as record’.
“Are you saying that KRU Studios are not telling the truth?
“Previous reports in the Malaysian media said that you did ‘extensive research… are you saying that the reporters are not telling the truth?” he asked.
Seigfried’s frustration comes after Yusry openly told local reporters that “they (the West) themselves do not know whether Vikings and Thor really exist or not.”
“Yes, we do know that the Vikings existed. This is historical fact. We have evidence from archeology, DNA, eyewitness accounts, law codes, chronicles,” he said.
“Thor exists in the same way that the god of any people exists… Is Allah real? Is the Holy Spirit real? To believers, these are all very real. I hope you would not look into the eyes of someone from another culture and tell them their God is not real, but yours is. That seems a bit impolite,” he added.
Seigfried denied Yusry’s claims that his (Seigfried’s) criticisms towards KRU was because the director is a Muslim.
“No… I believe with my entire heart that all religions should be respected equally. I do not believe that the number of believers determines the value of the religion. All faiths have value and can teach us wisdom,” he said.
“I am very sorry that you do not feel this way about respecting the religions of others,” he added.
Seigfried also denied Yusry’s claims that he is the only director who has been ‘bashed’ for changing ‘the original version of mythological stories in the West’.
“I am not ‘bashing’ you. As a major film director, I’m sure you are used to be in the public eye and being asked difficult questions about your work. Wouldn’t it be worse if no one paid any attention to you?” he said.
“You may also be interested in the interviews I have done with several major authors, artists and musicians who are inspired by Norse myth. However, they all answered my questions very politely. Not one refused to answer anything or attacked me for asking,” he added.
‘I am real’
Seigfried further criticised Yusry for doubting his credibility as an expert on mythology, referring to the latter’s statement: “There is no one who can confirm who this man is and whether it is true he is an expert on mythology and his purpose to bring up this issue.”
“My letter to you included my real name and a link to my website. The website has information about my classes at various institutions, my membership in several scholarly societies, links to more information,” Seigfried pointed out.
“It also has many, many of my articles and interviews on Norse myth and religion. It has been voted the world’s ‘Best Religion Weblog’ two years in a row. Like my Viking ancestors, I am actually real,” he added.
Seigfried then invited Yusry to Chicago to sit in one of his classes, as “my Norse religion students are very interested in your film and I’m sure they would have a lot of questions for you. Maybe we can learn from each other.”
He then called on the ‘world’ to tell KRU what they think of ‘Vikingdom’ and if they want the film to be shown in their city.
“Do you support its vision of Thor as an evil god who wants to enslave all of humanity – a vision based on ‘research’? Do you think all religions should be given respect?” he asked.
“You can decide if this film makes money for the director.”
Vikingdom was directed by Yusry and released in Malaysia on Sept 12, 2013.