Director of "Vikingdom", Yusry Abdul Halim releases a video statement to address film's controversy.
27 Sep – "Vikingdom" Director Yusry Abdul Halim has just released a video statement to address criticisms made by Chicago based Norse mythological expert Karl EH Seigfried and slams the local media for misquoting him and poor fact checking in their reports for the film which had contributed to the backlash.
In a video entitled "Director's Response to Vikingdom's Controversy" posted on KRU Studios' YouTube channel, Yusry calls out on the local media for misquoting him and having Norse mythology expert Karl EH Seigfried respond based on them.
The media mentioned were Free Malaysia Today Journalist for interviewing Seigfried based on misquotes and MStar Online for using wrong facts.
"Unfortunately my published interviews in the media Dr Seigfried has been responding to were lost in translation" he says. "One of it mentioned that I said that the Westerners can't really proof that the Vikings existed, which is a misquote."
Yusry and the cast of "Vikingdom" before production in 2011. (L-R) Jon Foo, Dominic Purcell, Yusry Abdul Halim, Natassia Malthe, Craig Fairbrass and Conan Stevens.
"I might live in this small part of the world in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, but over here, we too have the History Channel, Discovery Channel and I know quite a bit of European, Scandinavian history and culture. I know quite a bit of Norse and Greek mythology, I also know about the Romans, the Aliens, basically what you guys see over there on your History Channel, we see it here too."
"Admittedly I don't know as much about Vikings as Dr. Seigfried does and I've never claimed to be a Viking expert. This is the same as how Steven Spielberg can't claim himself to be a palaeontologist or dinosaur expert just because he directed "Jurassic Park." Said Yusry.
Thor (played by Conan Stevens) as seen in "Vikingdom", gained controversy for depicting a Norse God as a villain.
He states that the film was always promoted as a fantasy fiction and the only historical event in the film was a Viking attack that occurred in 793 AD, and even that was given a fictional twist.
Yusry also explains that he has no intention to offend any religion and points out examples of other international content based on mythology which did not gain any controversy as insulting to any religion.
"Let me stress that this is not really a new concept where mythology is changed for modern day entertainment. Like as seen in the movie "Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief" as well as the video game "God Of War".
He stress that his film is loosely based on mythology and not on the sacred text of Ásatrú, the religion that venerates the Norse Gods. He says "Vikingdom" is not comparable to "Innocence Of Muslims" as the latter was made with the intent to insult a religion while the former did not.
Relying heavily on CGI effects, "Vikingdom's" production budget was RM20 million.
Yusry elaborated that all Gods from all religions are real to all their respective worshipers. "Ásatrú Gods are as real to its believers as Allah is to Muslims. What I really said was; Norse mythology itself was the one that cannot be proven real and I mean this with the utmost respect to the people who are specialists in this field. After all that is why it's known as mythology and not history. If it can be proven as history, I will retract my statement and make a full public apology."
The director who is also the film's visual effects director and co-production designer added that he does know that Vikings really did exist as a result of researching for the film for two years through books, travels and research on the Internet, thus the local reports that said otherwise, were merely misquotes by the local press who are 'not at all familiar with Viking history'.
In the video, the director laments that he received a letter written by Seigfried quite late due to his inactivity on social media and regrets not getting it before it became a controversy. The reports of the controversy began to emerge around mid-September 2013.
The somber looking filmmaker then added, "I am not defending "Vikingdom" as I feel this film does not need defending, with it being a work of fiction. Today, I'm defending myself as I have been badly misquoted, poorly mistranslated and greatly misunderstood. I do not wish to lengthen this issue and I hope my explanation today is satisfactory to all."
Yusry then ended the 20 minute video by quoting the lead character of "Vikingdom"; Eirick, played by Dominic Purcell, "Men are now free to choose their own God, their friends, and their enemies."
"I for one, prefer to have more friends than enemies." He added.
Click to watch the full video statement made by Yusry Abdul Halim.
Cinema Online, 27 September 2013