Written on: 02/06/2010 by helruna (36 reviews written)
Set in an unnamed viking occupied territory, the story outlines the changeover of faith from Pagan to Christianity around 1000 AD.
We are introduced to a ferocious, mute warrior who is named 'One Eye'. He's never been bettered in fights and is passed in ownership every 5 years to another owner. A Conanesque voiceover tells us he is only driven by hate and revenge. After passing ownership between an unknown buyer and a chieftain Barde, One Eye gets his freedom and seeks revenge. He is then left without purpose. Joined by Are a slave of the slayed chieftan, One Eye adopts him in a way and appreciates the boys company. By action One Eye invites him to follow him.
One Eye gets flashes of his past and at times into the future. He meets up with some viking christians who know of his brutality and despite their obvious religious differences they set off to join the crusades. One Eye seems ill at ease with the Christians and this raises suspicion from them. The viewer starts to wonder about the identity of One Eye. Are and One Eye plus the christian soldiers get trapped in a never ending body of mist when out to sea. Soldiers start to die of thirst and hunger. Eventually One Eye senses that water can be drunk and they arrive in a fjord [or is it] and land. One by one a mysterious and invisible enemy starts to take the lives of the Christians. Are they in Hel, Hell or somewhere else? One Eye gets revealed his destiny to unfortunate and tragic ending!
This movie has almost non-existent dialogue. If you're expecting revelation and constant voice over explaining what's going on.. this movie IS NOT for you. Valhalla Rising is about a journey and the viewer is taken in by the solid downtone mood and depressing nature of the time. There's no feasting or views of a better life. It's nasty, brutish and short. It's the suspense that keeps us going. What suspense? Is ONE EYE killing off the soldiers, is he really a fallen God, can he really speak and of course, who is he and what drives him? How come he can sense their approaching deaths?
I would say if you have knowledge of the northern gods, especially ODIN, the one-eyed who used galdor and seidr to foresee the future. Indeed if you know nothing of legend you're still taken forward by the suspense of a hidden enemy. The movie is well shot as well as notably filmed on a BUDGET.
It is an art movie and if you're expecting something easy to enjoy, this movie isn't for you. Some fight scenes especially a disembowelment is particularly nasty! It is well penned and acted. One-eye's demeanour says 1000 words. Supporting Scottish and Scandinavian actors perform their roles well. We could surmise that it is set in the Shetlands [hence the accents]? This movie is more about the JOURNEY and not the END. It's about tough decisions in tough times and maybe, accepting fate. Expect a fall in review rating from non-hard-art movie lovers :-(
**spoiler** They arrive in the new land, I believe they are HOPI with their burial rites. We're not given any clues in the movie!
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