Over the past week, Netflix dropped the second season of their critically acclaimed series, Vikings: Valhalla. It offered a return to the Viking age, along with all its beauty and savagery. The streamer has also recently released a behind-the-scenes featurette on the making of one of the second season’s most pivotal sets, the Ice River.
The new featurette opens with clips from Season 2. Having been forced to flee Kattegat after it was besieged by his half-brother, Jarl Olaf (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson), Prince Harald Sigurdsson (Leo Suter) journeys to the city of Novgorod in a bid to buy an army worthy of reclaiming the throne of Norway. Harald does so by traveling through the land of the Rus alongside Leif Eriksson (Sam Corlett). His hopes to secure his uncle’s support for his campaign are dashed when he finally gets an audience. His uncle, Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise (Marcin Dorociński), does at least encourage him to reinvent himself… which he does. He befriends a nobleman, agrees to transport his treasure, buys furs, and puts together a crew among whom is one extremely unsavory character. Together, they set out on a boat on a sled, dragged by horses across a frozen lake on their way to Constantinople. “We are on the frozen Dnieper,” says Jon Beer, the show’s Supervising Art Director,as we go behind the scenes. “So we’re sort of between Novgorod and the Black Sea.” Suter also informs the audience that the boat crew for filming and the boat itself are both called “Falkies.”
Beer then continues to break down where the set really is, “But we are actually in a quarry in County Wicklow, and we’ve turned it into a frozen river where we are driving and pulling a ten-ton boat on a sled.” He continues to go further into specifics, stating that the boat weighs “three and a half tons” and needed a trailer “custom-made to take the weight.” The means of pulling the sled in the series were a group of horses, which according to Beer started off at four, then went to six, and ended with eight.
To get the best look of frozen ice as seen in the series, the team put concrete down on over 3,500 square meters to achieve that. Ben Mossman, the VFX Supervisor notes that lots of work went into the set with all the concrete and ice, given they were shooting in the summer in Ireland when story-wise they were somewhere in Eastern Europe during the winter.
One of the difficult portions of the journey sees the sled trapped in ice. Apparently, it was equally a challenge for the creative team as well as they had to put together “a big practical build of water and ice chunks.” However, to create the perilous situation when the ice dam finally breaks, VFX steps in to “create this crushing, devastating wall of ice.” Altogether, the teams were able to satisfactorily create one of the most compelling moments of the season.
Vikings: Valhalla Season 2 is available to stream on Netflix. Watch the featurette below: