Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Valhalla Rising (2009) ***

NR, 93 min.
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writers: Nicolas Winding Refn, Roy Jacobsen
Starring: Mads Mikkelsen, Alexander Morton, Maarten Stevenson, Gary McCormack, Gary Lewis, Jamie Sives, Ewan Stewart, Rony Bridges, Robert Harrison

I’ve been doing this for quite some time, and rarely does a movie come along that leaves me scratching my head wondering just what do I think about this movie. “Valhalla Rising” is a movie that does just that. I don’t know what to think of this film. I think I like it. I’m sure many won’t.

It’s about Christian Vikings looking for The Holy Land, Jerusalem, to fight in the Crusades. I think. And even if that part is true, that’s not really what it’s about. It follows a brute, referred to as One Eye, because he only has one eye. He’s a prisoner at first, who is used as a fighter for Lords to wager on in sort of Gladiator contests. One Eye is so good at killing. He’s always tied to a post while his opponent, sometimes two opponents, is free to attack in any way.

One Eye eventually kills his captors and stumbles upon a group of Christian Vikings. They set sail for the Holy Land and get lost in a fog. When they emerge, they think they’ve arrived at their destination. Anyone who has the slightest notion of geography knows they haven’t. I’m not sure there’s much else to say in terms of plot. There is a lot of killing. There is also a lot of standing around. There’s a lot of looking at the landscape. There are a lot of the men writhing in agony over… what? I don’t exactly know, but somehow it seems appropriate. The whole movie is like some bad Norse testosterone trip.

I can’t for the life of me figure what the point of all this agony is about. I don’t know the significance of One Eye. The Christians surmise at one point that he must be the Devil and that he’s accompanied them to Hell. Considering One Eye’s fate, this seems unlikely. 

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