A posting on our Longship Company yahoo group about Pixar's latest computer
generated faerie tale "Brave" left these comments in its wake. Be warned; we are
manaical historians, horsemen, swordsmen, blacksmiths, cookers of medieval
feasts, weavers of chainmail, descendants of Scots and Vikings... oh yeah, and we
have a 40' Viking longship on which we've road tested all the theories of sailing, rowing, and dodging Thor's hammer in existence.
Forthwith, our discussion;
(Teanna) Noted, on second viewing of Pixar's "Brave", that once more
Hollywood thinks you can row and sail a Viking Longship at the same time. OK,
they're coming into dock and the sails are a tiny bit on the slackish side...
comments anyone? (otherwise, it was a terrific little movie... even with the
anachronistic castle and the Clydesdale from the future (the Clyde didn't exist
until approximately the American revolution, she should have been riding a
Highland Pony or an Eriskay).
In "Beowulf" (the CG version) we also see a Viking ship arriving in the teeth of a gale with the crew rowing... and the sail up. This would definitely cause breakage and destruction; since you can't row as fast as you sail (nooo, not even Beowulf or Thor), you'd catch a very large "crab", the water would rip the oar out of your hands, breaking things along the way; the side of the ship, your arm, your neighbor's head...
(Capn' Atli); Well, you can in light winds; but it gets very messy as soon as
the breeze picks up! Of further note- did anybody notice the steerboards on the
port side? Christi nearly punched me when I pointed it out. Her attitude is:
"Just watch the movie!" ;-)
(Jim) I had a friend who used to go out on
the bay and simultaneously motor and sail. He would do this when there was no
wind -- thus, he would be the only boat on the bay with sails up. He would motor
in reverse. The result was taut sails and, he presumed, confusion on shore.
(Roger) Might the horse have been a "destrier," a medieval warhorse? I don't
recall anyone in the story providing a breed name.
Steerboards on the left is a major offense.
Rowing with slack sails...not so much. Around here they occasionally have
smugglers' races which allow the use of sail and oars both. How you juggle them
depends on your level of experience.
As for the Viking/Scots mix. My ancestors came from the Isle of Raasay. The
first clan chief on the island, Malcolm Garbh MacLeod, was the grandson of Olaf
the Black, a norseman.
(Teanna) Noooooooooo that was most definitely a Clydesdale. A beautifullly
cartooned Clydesdale. A beautifully cartooned, animated and anachronistic
Clydesdale... but then some other stuff was also in that vague sort of early
pre-gunpowder faerie tale Pixar time period. Exactly how I (as a kid) pictured
the time between Bible Stories and the American Revolution: that vague place in
which existed King Arthur, Vikings (with horns, of course), Robin Hood, and the
Three Musketeers. Here's to a new generation of histoically cornfused kids.
But probably they'll be so enchanted by the story they'll look up the actual
history.I suspect Pixar used the Clydesdale (like the Scottish highland
Cattle, the Scottish Deerhounds and the black faced sheep) as recognizeably
Scottish things, without regard to precise period.
(Drey) Before Teanna jumps into this one: Naw, that ain't a destrier. Its
another flub on the part of the filmmaker. Warhorses were not draft horses: but
many people seem to think so anyway.
Still a pretty movie...
(Dave, cameraman, on anachronisms in film) I was hoping to get a lot of good
footage at the 149th anniversary reenactment for stories concerning the 150th
anniversary next year, but I kept having trouble with the camera's anachronism
filter. I'd get a beautifully accurate shot lined up, and just as I'd hit the
record button something or someone from 150 years in the future would wander
Since the "war horse" is, for all intents and purposes, an extinct breed
(like the "Conestoga Horse" of Lancaster County), I can't fault Pixar for going
with the best availiable reference information; and yes, no particular breed was
Agreed, portboards were a major faux pas--at least til an
archeologist digs up a ship with da steering thingie on the wrong side...
Since this was "Fantasy Scotland"--and one damned good flick-- I'm no more
worried about the anachronisms and what we perceive as technical errors than I
was bothered by the horned helmets in "How to Train Your Dragon". What really
worries me is that Hollywood can't seem to make anything look beautiful
anymore without running it through a computer.
(Teanna; on the steerboard on the port side); (headsmack) DUH! (and, I uh,
saw it twice...)
"Steerboard" became "starboard"... it's the starboard side of the boat
because that's where the steerboard is! Pixar... you flubbed bigtime! (Dyslexic
Scots?)(or computer artists?. Call us next time you do a film with Viking
(Teanna) As noted even on the dreaded WIki, the modern draft horse is not the
medieval destrier, or any other heavy horse. the draft is an exaggeration of the
earlier heavy horses, bred for pulling. Somewhere I read the medieval "warhorse"
would look more like a Friesian... Freisian... Frie fri... fro... frum... those
medium sized black hairy footed horses. Reasonably fast, agile, strong, somewhat
heavy of bone, but not a modern drafter.
It's spelled Friesian. "The Friesian horse is unique, truly a breed to be
proud of. It developed from a very old breed which was inherent to all of
western Europe. It's the only horse native to Holland. Historically speaking,
the Friesian horse has been influenced by eastern bloodlines and has often been
threatened with extinction. Thanks to the single-mindedness and dauntless
dedication of true horse lovers, one can still appreciate the many facets of the
Friesian horse today." http://www.fhana.com
(wiki) "The word destrier does not refer to a breed, but to a
type of horse: the finest and strongest warhorse. These horses were
usually stallions, bred and raised from foalhood specifically for the needs of
war. The destrier was also considered the most suited to the joust; coursers
seem to have been preferred for other forms warfare.They had powerful
hindquarters, able to easily coil and spring to stop, spin, turn or sprint
forward. They also had a short back and well-muscled loin, strong bone, and a
well-arched neck. From medieval art, the head of the destrier appears to have
had a straight or slightly convex profile, strong, wide jaw, and good width
between the eyes. The destrier was specifically for use in battle or tournament; for everyday
riding, a knight would use a palfrey, and his baggage would be carried on a
sumpter horse (or packhorse), or possibly in wagons."
(wiki) "There are many theories as to what type and size destriers attained, but they
apparently were not enormous draft types. Recent research undertaken at the Museum of London using literary, pictorial and archeological sources, suggests war horses (including destriers) averaged 14–15 hands, and were distinguished from a riding horse by their strength, musculature and training, rather than their size. This estimate is supported by an analysis of medieval horse armour located in the Royal Armouries, which indicates the equipment was originally worn by horses of 15 to 16 hands, about the size and build of a modern field hunter or ordinary riding horse."
Actually, the modern Lippizanner is very close to this description.