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Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America (2007)

 |  Adventure, Drama  |  22 June 2007 (USA)
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Ratings: 4.5/10 from 429 users   Metascore: 51/100
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On the coast of North America in AD 1007, two Norsemen are stranded when their expedition is attacked and they are left for dead. As they struggle to survive in the vast forests of the New ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Fiore Tedesco ...
Volnard
Tony Stone ...
Orn
David Perry ...
Monk One
Noelle Bailey ...
Abenaki Woman
...
Orn's Wife
James Fuentes ...
Abenaki Man
Clare Amory ...
Volnard's Sister
Nathan Corbin ...
Viking Thrall
Sean Dooley ...
Monk Two
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Storyline

On the coast of North America in AD 1007, two Norsemen are stranded when their expedition is attacked and they are left for dead. As they struggle to survive in the vast forests of the New World, their paths diverge as one pursues a spiritual quest and the other reverts to his primal instincts Written by Anonymous

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Adventure | Drama

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22 June 2007 (USA)  »

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Vikings  »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$7,686 (USA) (13 March 2009)

Gross:

$15,423 (USA) (20 March 2009)
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Edited from The Seventh Seal (1957) See more »

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User Reviews

 
maybe the worst "visual poem" in recent memory
21 April 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

You remember the Blair Witch Project, where the three student filmmakers go out into the woods to shoot a movie only to lose their way and document the footage all along the way and then the footage is discovered some time later? Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America is like what might have happened if a crew- far more inept and high-minded with their intentions- went into the woods to shoot a Viking movie... and they got out all fine and somehow got their piece of drek released. It's also an earnest, poetic tome to Odin! Oh, what joy, we don't get many of those in the independent film world. Even if you're a hardcore Odinist this film won't make you wonder much why.

This is a truly horrific spectacle of a first-time director taking the tools of film-making- if only the most grubby and cheap digital ones at his disposal- and using it to masturbate in the woods with his two Viking actors (one of them himself of course) and pretty much no real script. According to the press notes Tony Stone "had a bunch of ideas... definitely picked the most insane one". If this was said by David Lynch or Werner Herzog (the latter cited as an unfortunate influence by Stone) it might sound intriguing. In this case it's revealed in the worst possible ways. Severed Ways is a disaster on fronts of storytelling (or lack thereof), "acting", cinematography, editing, music, and general atmosphere. That it's also boring is heavy-duty icing.

Oh and speaking of story it is so loose a term to use that you'll be completely befuddled to find it, or care enough to: it's the 1100 and two Vikings (Stone and Tedesco, don't ask who is who) are the last ones left after a battle on the sea and are washed ashore on the North American continent, and so they go exploring or trying to find possible other Vikings to do Viking things like... chopping down trees, killing animals and sitting and grunting by fires, which is what the two of them do for the most part of the running time. There's also two monks that appear at one point (the senseless killing of two chickens, done as if for a do-it-yourself guide, takes up a lot of the time midway through), a couple of Indians here and there, oh, and the film is broken up into CHAPTERS: Chapter 1: Stranded, Chapter 2: Camp, Chapter 5: Encounters, Chapter 4's introduction isn't even shown but the "END OF CHAPTER 4" title card pops up (!) as if it will make things any clearer.

Fact is, there is no real clear story; compared to this Herzog's Aguirre is Law & Order. But the lack of a solid structure could be forgiven if at least the director gave us some good things to look at or characters to care about. Not only is there neither, but it is almost as though the filmmaker goes out of his way to make things whiplash about with this digital camera (at best, for a couple of scenes, we get a couple of decent shots ala travelogue out of Vermont, where the film was shot) in big chase or action scenes (what few there are), or else Stone becomes entranced by a flickering fire or on lingering on a long shot on the two Vikings for absolutely no artistic reason whatsoever except to have pointless and pretentious lingering punctuated by the occasional random, awkward image of a frog or spider.

That the lighting is also done to wretched extremes (one may be blinded from time to time by the lack of an actual filter to not make the sun as blinding as in real life) is another issue altogether. Compacting these ugly images and usage of the digital lens is the editing by Stone himself which becomes so jittery, or on the flipside nonexistent, that it gives a very strong argument why a director should not sit alone for four months and edit like this case. There is also the issue of acting, which is nil since the cinematography and editing assists in taking away anything these two guys have to offer- not to mention dubbing (that's right, dubbing) of Nordic or Swedish dialog or whatever that sounds ripped off of 1950s newsreels whenever the characters aren't getting their Quest for Fire on. Lastly, there's the music, which ranges from at best tolerable (Queens of the Stone Age) to ear-bleeding (Dimmu Borgir to name one, but they all blend together after a while).

Bottom line, this is a hodge-podge, a low-budget train-wreck that could be fun to mock- maybe someone will be creative and do a well-deserved Mystery Science Theater 3000 on it- if it weren't so mind-numbingly boring. That may be, as Frank Capra once noted, the ultimate crime of the film: if Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America had at least entertained in its demented and awful poetry like Apocaypto it could be laughable. It is, ultimately, a practically unequivocal waste of time right now in movies.


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