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Valhalla Rising

Valhalla Rising
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.
Title Valhalla Rising
Release Date 2009-09-04
Genres Adventure Drama Action Fantasy
Production Companies BBC Films, La Belle Allee Productions, NWR Film Productions, One Eye Production, Savalas Audio Post-Production, Nimbus Film
Production Countries Denmark, United Kingdom


John Chard
It never manages to rise above its one trick. Nicolas Winding Refn directs and Mads Mikkelsen stars in this ponderous exercise in arty veneers. Refn boldly strips back the dialogue and plot to reveal a picture big on ideas but poor in execution. As the story plods along, stopping only briefly for some guttural violence now and then, it becomes evident that the makers have made a painfully boring movie. At first the drained out colour photography looks like a masterstroke of ethereal atmospherics, but this also wears off and only compounds the overall feeling of monotony that pervades the pic. Hugely disappointing venture from a director capable of so much more. 3/10
Twilight of the grim, grey… um… RELEASED IN 2009 and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, "Valhalla Rising” takes place in the 11th century where a one-eyed mute thrall (Mads Mikkelsen) obtains his freedom in the Scottish Highlands and joins a band of Viking Christians on a voyage to the Holy Land to fight in the Crusades, but the expedition doesn’t go as planned. The movie definitely LOOKS and SOUNDS awesome with an ambient score reminiscent of Agalloch, but without the heavy riffing or manic drumming. It’s an artsy non-blockbuster with a tone akin to "Aguirre, The Wrath of God" (1972) and "Black Robe" (1991). “Apocalypto” (2006) is a good modern comparison, although the story isn't as compelling as “Black Robe” or “Apocalypto.” It has elements of “Apocalypse Now” (1979) but the thin story just isn’t anywhere near as fascinating. Still, it’s okay. There are some weak points, like the Viking chief saying "It's a river" when this would've been obvious about an hour earlier when the mist first cleared (aduh). I'm sure the director would chalk it up to artistic license. Another issue is that the film is slow with not enough events to justify its runtime. As such, we get needlessly drawn-out scenes like the discovery of fresh water (which was obvious from the get-go of the sequence). The whole episode could’ve been done in a third of the time given. THE MOVIE RUNS 1 hour, 33 minutes and was shot in Scotland. WRITERS: Refn, Roy Jacobsen and Matthew Read. GRADE: B INTERPRETATION ***SPOILER ALERT*** (Don’t read further unless you’ve seen the movie). The silent One-Eye is the incarnation of Odin. He is invincible and holds the power to see the future. He disdains the Christian Vikings who’ve usurped his influence over his people. He tests many in battle to see if they’re worthy, but finds none. Nevertheless, he sullenly sees his people off to their new (holy) land, America, where Scandinavians were the third most numerous immigrants. The Boy is a type of Thor, his son, who will sort of replace him in America once the grim god ironically sacrifices himself à la Jesus Christ.

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