VALHALLA RISING (2009)

valhallarising_03

Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn
Written by: Roy Jacobsen & Nicolas Winding Refn
Cinematography By: Morton Soborg
Editor: Matthew Newman

Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Alexander Morton

1000 AD, for years, One Eye, a mute warrior of supernatural strength, has been held prisoner by the Norse chieftain Barde. Aided by Are, a boy slave, One Eye slays his captor and together he and Are escape, beginning a journey into the heart of darkness. On their flight, One Eye and Are board a Viking vessel, but the ship is soon engulfed by an endless fog that clears only as the crew sights an unknown land. As the new world reveals its secrets and the Vikings confront their terrible and bloody fate, One Eye discovers his true self. 

The film feels special. It feels like something you have never seen before. It moves slowly but then has burst of violence before going back to it’s quiet majestic pace. It’ really becomes a meditation after awhile. Since it takes it’s time to tell it’s story and never rushes ahead.

It’s a beautiful looking film. It’s historic and impressionistic yet naturalistic. Like a piece of art.

The film is nearly wordless. It’s almost like watching a Terrence Malick film. Only in this film each scene is filled with dread. It is also filled with suspense as you never know what is going to happen next anything can happen at any time. It’s a film that is determined not to be pigeonholed. In certain aspects it’s a masterpiece. It is also a film I can be totally satisfied with watching once.

I think you might find deeper meaning in this tense film. If your mind is altered when watching this (Though I don’t advocate any use)

The film follows the character of One Eye called that because he has only one and the kid he protects throughout the film calls him it. The film never shies away from showing his wound he never gets a eye patch. He is introduced to us as a prisoner of what seem to be Vikings who force him to fight to the death with other prisoners. He escapes taking the child with him on his journey (The child was the only person who fed him) One eye kills all those who try to capture him or hurt the child until he runs into a group of holy men who force him to accompany them and a group of Christians into settling in a new land in the name of the lord. Throughout the movie he kills anyone who threatens him or the child (In gruesome gory fashion at times)

Everyone seems to go crazy slowly in this film showing there true nature by the end of the film. The films lush landscapes reminds one of a Werner Herzog film. It certainly is as crazy and beautiful as one. It’s not bad company to be in.

The film is broken into chapters that define each section. The film is only 90 minutes. So it is short but it covers so much that it feels longer. Like sitting through a Akira Kurosawa film (Don’t mind my Auteur Name Dropping) This film almost felt like it was challenging me to sit through the whole thing.

As One Eye Mads Mikkelsen is mesmerizing telling us so much about the character while never speaking. Scary as a monster but managing to make you sympathize with his him. Since the film starts off showing One Eye as a savage this character seems to become compassionate. While still maintaining his savagery as his survival skill. His character is like a one man army. A silent superhero stuck in a historical epic.

Nicholas Winding Refn shows a great range here making a modest historical epic. It still maintains his trademarked stylish graphic violence but in a new landscape and time period. Away from his usual underground crime films. It is almost like the film is a statement to show his versatility and talent. Though it does keep to his fascination with brutish masculinity.

This is definately a film that needs to be seen, But it’s not a must see as it is not for everyone.

GRADE: B

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