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A strangely captivating movie
dschmeding25 May 2010
"Valhalla Rising" is a strange movie that will split the audience into lovers and haters like you can see in the comments here. To me its these movies that are most interesting. If a movie goer sees a movie like this with breathtakingly beautiful and artistic cinematography on a low budget and still rates it with one or two stars, its either pure ignorance or something was struck that resonated in a negative way.

I already loved the previous movies of director Winding Refn but this one goes into a totally different direction. Its hard to explain the plot because most of it happens in the viewers head. What you see is mostly mythological and religious symbolism all revolving around the main character "One eye". A warrior who fights with a raw power of which we never know its human or not because he is mute and keeps the same empty expression in his face throughout the movie (only in some scenes it seems like hints of a smile shine through).

The movie starts with "One eye" held captive and has to fight battles to the death in which he always prevails. This first part of the movie has some raw violence in it and could be viewed as the "most entertaining" part because after this "Valhalla Rising" turns into a slow moving journey to an unknown place with barely any dialog and a droning ambient soundtrack.

Its hard to say what really happens in the several segments the movie is split into but the religious tone ("Hell", "Sacrifice") already show this is not a movie on a more existential level. And as I am still trying to piece the impressions of "Valhalla Rising" together I find that its a movie that sticks with you long after watching if you let yourself dive into the dense atmosphere. The imagery is stunning throughout, the most simple shots like a close up of knifes being washed in a river look like a beautiful painting and the constant difference between the beauty of the cinematography and the cold colors, raw violence and the dark droning soundtrack are as captivating as Mads MIkkelsen playing the cold expressionless "One Eye" like a force of nature.

I can't put my finger on what sucked me into this movie but "Valhalla Rising" is an experience open minded movie fans should not miss and I am looking forward to future projects from this promising director.
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TIFF 09: The boy said he was from hell … Valhalla Rising
jaredmobarak21 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Sometimes a movie comes along that is almost indecipherable, but for reasons unknown, still can't be shaken from my consciousness. Nicolas Winding Refn's Valhalla Rising is one such example. It concerns a one-eyed, mute Norse warrior's quest to discover his lot in life and/or death … I really don't know which. It could have been the fatigue of being the fourteenth movie seen in less than four days at the Toronto International Film Festival, or perhaps it was intentionally vague to utilize its mood and gorgeous environments as the true focal points. Winding Refn said before the screening that he always wanted to shoot in an exotic place, and this was the chance to make that a reality. So, with the lavish hillsides of Scotland, he and co-writer Roy Jacobsen brought a tale of Vikings searching for the Holy Land—or a place to set up a new one—with them, listening to heavy metal in order to get into the mindframe of the hell that would take over. I do think all involved understood that the story would be left up to audience interpretation, making it more a journey rather than a strict plot, because star Mads Mikkelsen left us with a cryptic message himself before the projector started going. He said, "Sit back, relax, and enjoy that imaginary joint." It all starts with Mikkelsen's One-Eye in captivity, being used as a fighter against other Norse tribes' best—able to take a beating and always shell out more to achieve victory. Helped by a young boy, Are, (played by Maarten Steven), he soon escapes and kills those holding him captive, taking the boy with him as he travels on, visions of red violence coming into his mind, leading him to an inevitable fate. Using the boy as translator to those they cross paths with, a bond is formed between the two, one that holds One-Eye accountable to protect him no matter what. Eventually finding passage with a Viking vessel of Christians, the captain of which sees the use of having a man of his powers as an ally, a fog soon rolls in as they sail to an unknown land. Conditions become dire as food and drink deplete and the water surrounding them becomes salty and undrinkable. Tensions run high and blame is passed to the warrior, calling him a beacon of evil, already having been told by the boy that he came from hell.

The visions become more frequent as we wonder if One-Eye is going insane, is a vessel himself for a higher being, or just supernatural in both strength and mind. Red soaked passages eventually come true in the dull, cold palette used to show reality. Violence runs rampart throughout, allegiances, tenuous at best, and survival playing a large role in everything. Maybe this God of a man is some sort of reaper taking the Vikings on a journey to their destruction or perhaps he has only involved them in the trip to his own, but either way, the graphic nature of combat and battle—dirty and personal, just as you'd think it would be with savages such as these—is prevalent at all times. Right from the start we are exposed to the gruesome fights, seeing two men battle in the mud, feeling each punch connect, a battle ending with the decapitation of the loser by the chain holding the victor in place so as not to escape. Brutal in execution and still beautiful in its hellish visuals, one cannot deny the power of image.

Winding Refn's Vikings are physical specimens of humanity, not exactly giants, but fierce in their mentalities and demeanors. You would not want to get into a fistfight with any, as they would rip you apart limb from limb. It is this gritty realism that helps in the success of the movie, showing this world as being without rules and governed by strength. The leader will be the general that can keep the rest safe, his hold of power only as strong as the respect given him by those he leads. It only takes one moment of weakness to become expendable, killed and tossed to the side as the next warrior rises up. But then you have One-Eye, a man who could take on anyone or all and be victorious. He is not out for the glory or riches that come in war; he is on a spiritual march to whatever future is coming to him in bits and pieces when he closes his eyes.

Norse mythology is often made into large blonde men wearing horned helmets and furry clothing, weapons at hand to bludgeon and beat. Valhalla Rising doesn't buy into these clichés or stereotypes, instead digging deeper into the mentalities of these people, the rage and religious fervor that lives inside. The Christians want to find salvation or safety of some form, and they aren't afraid to spill blood to find it. So it becomes a combination of mythology and Christianity and survival, men without answers on a journey through hell, or into it. I was a little surprised to hear that distribution rights were purchased after it screened in Toronto, not because it doesn't deserve them—it is a cinematic feat that earns the right to be seen and dissected—but because of its lack of mainstream appeal. So much of the movie is internal, watching actors act without words, making the audience think and decipher what is going on. I just hope the Hollywood machine does not fall into the trap of selling it as a battle royale of Vikings on the sea, a 300 type epic adventure. That would be the greatest disservice of all. The film merits an audience of introspective thinkers and open minds to let the sumptuous nature of all on screen—whether beautiful or disgusting or both—wash over them and grab hold. It isn't so much a movie to be seen, but one to be experienced.
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In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king
nicrok5 June 2010
Well, I'm not sure how to put this.

This isn't the movie you would expect. This is a raw and gritty movie, a festival for your eyes, a rare piece of art that dispenses with dialogue, plot and laws of logic for the sake of great cinematography/photography, gripping ambiance and mythology. VALHALLA RISING rendered me speechless. I can't even tell you if it's good - I just want to tell you that it's worth watching. Every minute of it. It is an experience.

We do not learn much of our (anti-)hero: a warrior-slave, Mads Mikkelsen, is freed from captivity and bands with a group of crusaders who intend on heading to the Holy Land, yet end up, well, in their own little hell.

There isn't much more to say to the plot, for it hardly matters - mythology matters here, the grand sceneries matter, and the underlying message matters. It aims at showing us how superfluous the Christian God seems in a world of violence; life as a farce in the face of intangible evil. Will you desert your (Christian) God when the time has come? Here lies its main agenda: in a world of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. He is indeed, he ties us to the elemental powers, and rises above.

A piece of art. Take your time, be patient, and you will enjoy it like no movie before.
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God was I wrong
JogigoJ24 May 2010
I was expecting an epic battle movie about Vikings (as my mistake was to not check who's the director) and hell was I mistaken. What was delivered was an astonishing movie about humanity. In my humble opinion this is a masterpiece, despite being visually and acoustically amazing it is an in-depth look into mankind as it is rarely found. There is a lot in this movie (which in itself is amazing when one is looking on the minimal use of words)and I have to admit I did not get all the hints and metaphors used.

If you want entertainment go and watch something else use your brain and you will enjoy this movie! I normally do not write reviews or rate movies here but I strongly felt that this movie was underrated by a mile. Further, this reminded me to go and finally buy Denmarks best trilogy!
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Snake Plisken3 June 2010
This is an excellent movie. It's a visual movie that you watch and experience. There is very little dialog and everything said is important. It requires several viewings to grasp many of the subtleties in the images and story. The director has managed to capture the atmosphere perfectly. The action is very brutal and lifelike.

This movie isn't everyone's cup of tea. It has a very "trippy" feel throughout the movie, and a bit of philosophy thrown in. The main questions surround the hero of the movie, One-Eye, and a boy named Are, who he is protecting. After watching it several times, I am of the opinion that One-Eye is possibly a direct avatar of Odin. A very interesting movie with excellent cinematography, with much of the story shown and not told, I recommend this to anyone who has a brain and likes action and adventure.
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Immyr18 May 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I don't even know how I discovered this movie. But it will not leave me for a long long time.

Many levels,so many levels, a deep breath into oneself.

Much existential philosophy here.

It speaks of the meaning of life. How do we live ? Why do we live ? How will we die ? The Christianity is just there in the background to make one see the emptiness of a life searching for an afterlife.

The other men live and die. Many in vain. Searching for their god, searching for a meaning, and always, except a few, dying by their fear.

One-eye, the hero (I don't know if you can REALLY call him that), is just a man, living for the instant, for this world. There is no future in his eye, just the brutal present. All along his journey, there is a kind of smile on his lips, as if he knew what the future will be made of. Well, events are never unexpected for him, because each of them happen in the present and he deals...

Valhalla : where warriors who die in battle go... Odin was also one- eyed.

The penultimate chapter is called : Hell. Hell is the representation of the warriors of Christianity for a place on earth. They are in hell, because they think they are. They react as they were there. For One-eye, just another place, another home... the last survivors follow him out of it... All the symbolism... the prophet to lead us out of the religion's hells is just a man, a semi-blind one, who can't see the distances very well, but see the present, clear enough to lead the path.

Don't go watch this movie if you are seeking action.

If Nietzsche is your friend, One-eye is another Zarathustra.

10 out of 10 without hesitation.
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Hearts of Darkness meets Bosch meets Lord of The Flies
Stu Brett2 July 2010
Nicolas Winding Refn and his skeleton film crew have done a fantastic job with this film. It's minimalist in it's dialogue (more akin to a Takeshi production), brutal in it' depiction of violence, stunning in it's heavily treated Scottish-shot cinematography and quite frankly surreal in it's execution.

As for the story, you may have read the plot above but Nicolas Winding Refn is really wanting to take his audience on a visual/psychological journey rather than spell everything out for you. This is a film that will probably win over more 'art-house' fans than hyperactive videogaming teenage boys, which begs the question - What the hell happened to the original theatrical poster artwork, why has the marketing department decided to package this as a '300' rip-off?? It's criminal.

In terms of plot, much is left to the imagination and it benefits greatly from it. It's like a very bad acid trip. A trip that Mads Mikkelsen's character 'one-eye' undertakes for reasons known only to himself (well, a mute isn't going to tell you what's he's doing is he?). After fleeing his captors, finding a child as a companion and joining up with a group of midgy-bitten Scottish Christian Vikings (which actually existed, by the way) we find ourselves en-route, via viking boat to what can only be described as Hearts of Darkness meets Bosch meets Lord of The Flies. It's a story that peers into the deepest and darkest parts of man's soul. Chaos, evil, death it's all in there and the director takes on an almost Werner Herzog persona, dragging his crew to the most remote parts of Scotland. It's edgy, sparse, minimalist spooky psychological stuff that's utterly gorgeous and tense throughout. It just about holds the pace together (almost losing it in the boat scenes) but it's Mads Mikkelsen that keeps you gripped. Even without uttering a word, he draws you in until the closing scene Great stuff. It's gory art-house flick, existential, dark, minimalist, stylish and very un-Hollywood. And I loved it.

I just wish the box art was revised for the sake of it's future audience. The packaging this film comes in is a disgrace. '300' it ain't! It desperately needs a minimalist design on the menu and box to match the film's mood (and original theatrical poster). Trust me folks, I'm a Graphic Designer!
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True masterpiece, a work of art. Deep and raw...
Hugo França28 August 2010
This is what i call cinema at it's true and pure essence. This movie is raw, intense and beautiful. It focuses on the human nature, throws some great concepts from Nietzsche and adds a primal yet substantial ideology on how we are connected to nature. It reminds me of Apocalypse Now and how the journey moves on. Excellent cinematography and atmosphere. It really took me into the movie and made me enjoy every single second of it.

I've read some bad reviews and seen some negative ratings on this one, and i totally understand why. This movie caught a lot of attentions because of it's title, being English spoken and also because of the trailer, but sadly it ended up in the hands of some action-popcorn-thirsty-kids. Please go see Lord of the Rings and leave the ratings to those who seek a deep and philosophical movie. I'm not an intellectual freak and i love Lord of the Rings and other blockbusters but to those not familiar with Tarkovsky, Fellini, Bertolucci or even Leone will surely dislike this movie and not be able to see it till the very end.

The soundtrack is amazingly rich and original, the visuals are stunning, the story is simple yet deep and meaningful. I would say this is a cult movie and a must see, one of the best movies ever.
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Style over substance
andri_iceland20 July 2010
When I heard there was going to be a Viking movie with Mads Mikkelson, and I saw the trailer for it, I was very very intrigued. I am of the opinion that a serious Viking drama has never been done well or respectfully, so I was really hoping that I might get that here.

Unfortunately, the plot of Vallhalla Rising is so shallow and near meaningless that I must admit that I'm still waiting.

That being said, if judged in terms of cinematic and visual experience, it was beautifully shot, and the much vaunted fights scenes (especially the ones in the beginning) were awesome in their brutality. The director sets great scenes in some awesome locations, so your eyes will be in for a treat... but don't expect riveting plot. Rather, think of this as an arts movie with a bit of brutal violence in it.

Hell, I just wished they named the movie better. The fact these characters are Norse is just about irrelevant... they could have plugged a number of different cultures into this story-line, change a few slight details and the difference to the core story would have been negligible. Way to name a movie Valhalla Rising' simply because otherwise the idea that there are Vikings in this movie is not reinforced heavily enough.

So, watch if you want a artsy visual experience... don't sit down with a bunch of friends expecting a action blockbuster. This is not it.
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Half confused, half awed
jadagirl4 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
On a whim I decided I wanted to try "Valhalla Rising". It looked like my type of movie.... you know, action, violence, that kind of thing. I couldn't have been so far from the truth. Yes, violence was there, more towards the beginning, and dry, hardly any fanfare at all. But, as the movie progressed it became... how to put it... simple yet complex, and artistic and rough (bright use of red/blue vs the lifeless colour).

So on to the movie. There was very little dialogue throughout the film, the actors relying more on body language, the dead-pan stares, the lift and tweaks of eyebrows and mustaches/beards. I was with it so far. Not my type, but actually enjoying it. Then we entered 2/3 way and I entered my "WTH" moment. I swear the wine (at least i think it was wine) they consumed was tainted. Yea, you have to watch that part to understand what I mean. Then the movie races (if turtles race) towards the end. Didn't like the ending. Nope.

On a whole, the movie was so so, with much of my rating going to the cinematography, the score, and Mads Mikkelson whom I think was good as "One Eye". I just didn't quite get it...

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An intense, visceral piece of film making.
davmulligano19 May 2010
"The Big Sleep" with Humphrey Bogart is famous for being more about the parts themselves than the sum. Valhalla rising in my opinion is very similar. The cinematography and the sound editing trump all the other aspects of the film. It does indeed deal heavily in ambiguous symbolism and I am sure one could draw parallels with a number of sources. The story is really not as complicated as has been made out on these message boards. There is no clear answer to this film but at the same time you will not feel robbed by the this, there is a definite beginning, middle and end. It's best just to sit back and enjoy the menace that permeates the entire film, even having known the ending from some careless commentator I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of watching this. I would not however have enjoyed 3 hours of it, but it is only 90 minutes long so is perfect. The violence is really not that bad, there are so many worse films for this...'irreversible, brave-heart and any gore porn movie doing the rounds.' Go see this film, enjoy for it's stunningly visuals, startling audio and general intensity. Oh, and I did not enjoy his previous film 'Bronson' art house British movies just look horrible, this is beautiful. Similar to the thin red line but not as long and tedious.
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Atmospheric But Not Much Else
Theo Robertson25 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This film comes with a lot of baggage a fact reflected from the critical reception it got on its release . Some people thought it was a masterpiece whilst others thought it was pretentious self indulgent torture porn . Likewise the comments here that seems to split people right down the middle . Somewhat typically I could only award it 5 out of 10 because seeing it my rating for this film wavered between 1 and 10 . It wavers from dreadful pretentious rubbish and masterpiece from scene to scene

To be honest I almost switched off after the first ten minutes as a one eyed man stands leashed to a pole and indulges in mortal combat in 11th Century Europe . Nothing is held back in this scene of violence or indeed in the suceeding scenes that sees heads bashed in and disembowelment . One can quite understand watching this in the cinema and seeing half the audience walk out in disgust . The film doesn't help its cause much by having little dialogue and the need to insert bizarre surreal sequences in to the narrative

The film does pick up when One Eye and his child companion come across Christian converts who wish to travel to Jerusalem to fight in the Crusades and board a boat a boat to the Holyland only to come across a strange place that geographically is not in the Middle East . Here the film works at its best as the characters try and work out the mystery of where they are and what fate has in store for them . At this point it's almost like APOCALYPSE NOW meets Tarkovsky

Impressive as this is director Nicholas Winding Refn feels the need to go overboard on the directing front and he's neither Tarkovsky or Francis Ford Coppola . Certainly the film has a sense of intelligible portent dread throughout but like his previous film BRONSON Refn shows off a little too much which becomes painfully irritating . Less would have certainly been more This interferes with whatever the subtext the narrative might been making . There's an ecclestastical meaning there somewhere . One character refers to One Eye " He has many Gods while we only have one ( Christopher Hitchen's would reply to this by saying " Good because we're getting closer to the true figure " ) and of course the characters are trying to sail to the Holy Land but this is undone by the pretentious imagery . Strangely the film features a twist ending that possibly isn't entirely leftfield since the characters drink a psychotropic brew that has a mystical maninkari effect , but this leads the audience to ask how anyone can sail to the Middle East only to end up in North America ?

I tried to like VALHALLA RISING and from a technical viewpoint it is very impressive . Unfortunately the director sabotages his own film by including too much gore and too much " Oh look at me aren't I being so clever ? " to the detriment of storytelling and subtext. It's difficult to see what market the film is trying to buy in to . Is it the historical epic crowd , the horror crowd or the art-house crowd ? This makes for a very unsatisfying film
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The Valhalla Gates are open, but the Gods are sleeping …
Coventry22 April 2010
Damn! This was, like, the most frustrating kind of cinematic disappointment you can imagine. On one hand you expect a completely different and much more virulent kind of action movie, but on the other hand you totally can't claim that this was a terrible movie. Okay, admittedly, I expected non-stop swashbuckling, blood-dripping Viking spectacle and relentless violence from "Valhalla Rising", but can you blame me? The title and the awesome film poster, depicting a chained warrior with only one eye and war symbols painted on his muscular chest, alone were enough to make my mouth water. There are far too few genuine Viking movies out there, and since this is a local Scandinavian product, I honestly assumed it would have been a kick-ass movie. Instead, "Valhalla Rising" is a slowly unfolding and brooding epic with melancholic themes and unimaginably beautiful photography. Mads Mikkelsen, Denmark most talented actor even though he doesn't speak a single word in this film, stars as the charismatic and fierce warrior One-Eye (aptly baptized by his 10-year-old travel companion) who lives the miserable life in captivity. Viking tribes use him as their deadliest weapon in random gladiator games until, one day; he breaks his chains and regains freedom. Followed around by the one boy who treated him somewhat decently, One-Eye joins a clan of self-acclaimed crusaders intending to travel to Jerusalem with a vessel and re-conquer the holy land of God. The pacing is incredibly (at times even intolerably) slow and there's hardly any dialog in the film at all. More than once, "Valhalla Rising" actually reminded me of the legendary spaghetti westerns directed by Sergio Leone, and particularly "Once Upon A Time in the West". That movie – one of the greatest ones ever made, by the way – is also very slow and seemingly purposeless, but simultaneously boosts an atmosphere that is consistently ominous and unsettling. "Valhalla Rising" exists of multiple chapters, seven in total if I remember correctly, but nevertheless maintains a simple and chronological narrative. The crusade to Jerusalem is a marvelous symbolic criticism towards warfare in the name of religion; although I remain convinced the journey could have used action & bloodshed instead of hints at supernaturalism. Mikkelsen (the bad dude in Casino Royale) is terrific and it's remarkable how he must trained to get a body like that, but his character could have been so much more fascinating. Writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn ("Fear X", "Bronson") is definitely courageous and visionary, but I just hope that his film won't be misinterpreted or inaccurately promoted. If sold as a wildly exciting and blood-soaked Viking spectacle in Hollywood or so, "Valhalla Rising" is bound to become very unpopular.
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This film was so horrible that it just made me angry
fdenota29 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
One word Agonizing, I was looking forward to an off the beaten road type of historical flick, a fresh look into the subject. It seems to attempt to be " a piece of art" rather than a film,and i understand what they were trying to achieve with it. However it is so painfully boring, frustrating,pretentious, devoid of any real emotion, and downright annoying. I get the faint feeling that a Film like this is truly insulting my intelligence on some distant personal level. there are artistic films that can cleverly dispense with dialogue and leave much for you to work out on your own, but they have to be engaging enough to stimulate profound emotional feelings in a viewer. Then there are films that seem to to have no real artistic merit but claim to be works of art be virtue of using this so called "artfull" cinematic formula. this is one is the latter. This same film could have been achieved with a series of still images in 5 minutes, and even then it would be mediocre at best. I would have gotten a better experience staring nonstop into a painting on a wall for 90 minutes, because thats basically all there is here, long shots of people staring at each other for no apparent reason whatsoever. what a waste.
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Death has dominion over this nauseating Nordic blood bath of a movie
Tom23 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Just as last year's Bronson was a huge step forward for Danish director, Nicolas Winding Refn, from his Pusher trilogy, so too is Valhalla Rising a definitive progression in the formation of his identity as an auteur.

The tension of this slow moving story, punctuated with explosions of ultra violence and fountains of blood, is heart stopping. The dialogue is sparse, the protagonist a mute Viking slave, who has killed his masters and is accompanied only by a young boy, who speaks on his behalf.

The film is set against dark and ominous Scottish Highlands, occupied by Nordic pagans whose way of life is threatened by the spread of Christianity. A group of Christian Vikings find the pair and see the benefit of bringing the one eyed slave bezerker on a journey to Jerusalem for the first Crusade. After they embark, the Christians suspect that a mysterious fog that impairs navigation, is a curse brought upon them by the pagan slave. He is too powerful to kill and at any point in the film when he is challenged, there follows a gory scene with lashings of crimson and the barbaric sounds of axe cleaving flesh and splintering bone.

Without a background knowledge of the subject matter, the plot may seem far fetched and the violence gratuitous. It is remarkable that in fact every aspect of the film, from the decapitation of a chieftain, whose head is then placed on a pole (a magic rite to pagan vikings), to the accidental discovery of Canada hundreds of years before Columbus, were things that actually happened. All the activities of these fictional characters are based on archaeological and mythological sources.

The linear story of an escaped slave finding salvation amongst Christians is brought into question. The slave never confirms his beliefs, and is content to kill the Christians at the first sign of aggression. The name of the pagan protagonist is One-eye, a Viking nickname for their God of war, Odin. When questioned by the Christians as to the origins of the slave, the boy responds, "he was brought up from hell." It seems that One-eye is more symbol than character. His emotions and intentions are never made clear. He is a source of fear for the Christians, who mistake Canada for Hell, believing the pagan slave has led them there using magic. But he is also a guardian figure, who takes the boy under his wing after killing the rest of his tribe.

The film explores the complex issues of cultural and spiritual conflict that were being played out in Europe 1000 years ago. The Christianisation of Europe, the slaughter of the pagans followed swiftly by the first crusade and the slaughter of Muslims in the holy land are all addressed. While in Europe, the pagans are said to live on "the edge of the world," hunted and killed in their thousands. In Canada The tables are turned and the pagan Native Americans hunt the Christians. The Viking landings in the new world ended badly and foreshadowed the colonisation of the Americas 500 years later, resulting in more slaughter in the name of the Christian god. The repeating shots of crosses from obscure angles cut with One-eye's premonitions of extreme violence seem to be a message of the danger of Christianity. The Christian Viking leader's maniacal screams about "My new Jerusalem!" echo those of the early Christian settlers of America, who made similar declarations before slaughtering the native Americans.

The appeal of this movie for most, will not be the spiritual message, nor will it be the un-hurried cinematography and beautiful shots of the Scottish highlands. It will be violence. There is no denying the violent scenes are shockingly graphic, but they are too sparse to hold the attention of the average sociopathic gore-hound. Some sections are extremely drawn out and confusing, including a scene in which one viking rapes another, whilst under the influence of a hallucinogenic narcotic. Nothing is explicitly explained in the film. For some this will make the challenging story more intriguing, for others it will be simply bewildering.
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Heislegend19 May 2010
Know this...if you saw the title of this movie and immediately imagined an epic battle between Thor and...ummm...someone, you were wrong. Oh boy, were you wrong. The fact of the matter is that this movie is much less Iron Man action flick and much more semi-pretentious art-house flick. It's slow. VERY slow. There's not much in the way of dialog or even plot. It's basically just a group of guys wandering around lost having very disjointed conversations. Seriously...that's about it. Oh...and one of the guys never talks so those conversations just got even more limited.

That being said, the movie isn't without it charms. The cinematography is excellent. Pretty much any wide shot or establishing shot is pretty damn beautiful (even if it's a green screen). Parts of the movie are intriguing, or at least just enough to make you ( at least) keep watching.

In the end, for me it kind of leaned towards being a bit boring. I mean...hardly anything happens. Take away all of those long wide shots, as good as they look, and take away all of the parts where people are just sitting around not saying anything and you've got a movie that's maybe 30 minutes long. So as much as I wanted to like it, there's not a whole lot of it to like in terms of plot and dialog. And much of what is there is kind of poorly put together or just plain confusing. All in all it's definitely a movie that would play well on an HDTV with a Blu Ray player for the great visuals, but aside from that kind of falls flat on it's face in most other respects.
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They are in hell, so are you.
tcdehaas4 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
About as bad as one can make a movie, nice visuals, but the rest is utter crap. Too bad, this could have been a real gem. The opening scenes seemed to set the viewer up for a treat, again the visuals were captivating, the howling wind and the brutal combat scenes seemed raw and possessed a promising quality. When our one eyed anti-hero hooks up with the crusaders however the whole movie moves from slightly bad to utterly disastrous. But the movie lacked depth, there is literally no dialogue, and all that staring got old fast. All in all a very disappointing movie. Do yourself a favor and watch something else instead..
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agibaer10 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Amazing how the director managed to expand a 5 minute short into one and a half hours of suffering for the poor viewers.

There is no story, no acting, no nothing.

Granted, some viewers will find it "astonishing", "no Hollywood b...t", "ingenious", as is always the case with bad movies. Just swim against the stream for the sake of it.

I can't remember watching such a boring, useless movie since I made the mistake to watch a movie by Uwe Boll.

Give me back the 90 minutes of my life! Or at least the 60 minutes I was awake during the movie. Maybe I'll keep it as a sleeping pill. Just hearing the title will probably put me fast asleep.
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I am sure there once existed a story line in the director's head
jonathan-schneider2 March 2011
Warning: Spoilers
You don't expect much of story line when you see a chained, one-eyed warrior with an axe in his hand, but whatever story the movie was telling, the watcher was left in the dark. There is no reason in the character's acting. Questions that will occur when you watch this movie:

1. What's with the naked women in the beginning?

2. Where did the crusader expect to land? To be flushed straight into the Holy Land?

3. Where did they actually land?

4. Who is the brown guy and why is he sitting with them?

5. Are they supposed to be natives? So the actually got into a boat, got stuck in a fog and eventually landed in the New World?

6. Why do they think they are in hell? And why don't they explore the country? Jerusalem isn't at the ocean, so wherever they landed they'd still have to walk.

7. Why do they go crazy and kill each other?

8. Why does One-Eye sacrifice himself and why is being killed?

The movie has some sort of story line but it's not explained. It just scenes thrown together that chronologically make sense but I still couldn't follow the story.

My last question:

What is the "true self" that One-Eye apparently finds as it's advertised on the back of the movie?
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Strange, inventive, deep....but slow
drakula200518 May 2010
The human nature is very strange.You see a movie still, an artwork, or whatever, and you think you know everything about a movie, you haven't even seen yet.Yes, like most of you, my expectations were at a very different level, but i was simply not prepared for what i saw.

This movie is epic, although the small proportions of it.And by proportions, i mean budget, scale, those things.The only thing i knew before seeing the movie, was an actor i have seen before-One Eye, or Mads Mikkelsen.He was great in Casino Royale and was one of the few things i liked about Clash of the Titans.So that's the main reason i went to see the movie.

But after all, i wasn't left disappointed, because the movie was good in a light, i haven't predicted.It was relentless, ruthless, brutal, but fascinating as well.It has a few underline stories, involving Christianity and faith in God, as well as paganism and disbelief.There are some Christian taboos as well.And according to Christianity "Valhalla" means hell not the place, where all warriors go.That's in the Scandinavian literature.

The story is pretty simple-a man is being kept as a prisoner, until he escapes with a boy.They meet some Vikings on their way to Jerusalem.They travel together, but next thing you know they find themselves on an isolated shore.The men start dying one by one, which forces them to think, they're in hell.They see the quiet One Eye as the man to blame.

The acting of One Eye was great-the thing, that caught my attention till the very end.He did an outstanding job, and if you want to hear him talk, see Titans or Casino Royale, instead.Because that is something very different.It is set on a smaller scale, and is gruesome and a little bit pointless at time, but that obviously was the point...

The thing i have against the movie, is the fact, it is too slow.It is creative, beautiful, masterful direction most of the time, but it is simply slow and even boring at moments.The dialogue is rare to be found.There was a scene, i didn't quite understood, because of the lack of dialogue.And the scene was important.If this was the idea, well, it wasn't transfered good to the audience.And if it wasn't, this means one thing-poor screen writing.But nevertheless, a good movie, not great, not terrible as well.It is hard to be explained.Maybe, "strange" is the word, i'm looking for.See it.Judge for yourself.

If you're waiting to see endless battles, that's not the movie for you.It has battles, but in a very small amount of time.If you're looking for a different take on Religion, movie-making and acting, see it.And, pointless at times, slow and boring-those are the things that can bother You.But if You overcome them, You'll probably like it a little bit more, because it builds intensity and mystery, sooner or later.

A movie, not from this decade, but a movie, that should have been made.A movie not for anyone.

My rate:6/10
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" Welcome to the Far Side of the World, Viking "
thinker16915 October 2011
The far away country from which the Danes arrived to the New World was distant Indeed. Many stories have been written about the Northmen and their first encounter with the Native American in a place called Vin Land. Despite, what has been written, few facts have ever emerged as to the actual encounter. True, there are stone foundations, fire brick walls and layout of their settlements, but the actual exchange of Ideas or a semblance of Culture, little has been agreed on. Nevertheless, here is a good example of what writer/director Nicolas Winding Refin believed happened when the two cultures did encounter each other. Around 1000 years Before Christ, a hostage Warrior named One Eye, (Mads Mikkelsen) finally escapes his bonds and with a small boy named Are (Maarten Stevenson) make their way across the wide open sea in a Viking vessel and disgruntle crew. After an interminable time, through a foggy distance, they land in what they believe to be the Middle East. As time passes, they realize they are not in Jerusalem, but in a very hostile world. The movie is much like the film, nearly devoid of sense or direction. Encounters between the Vikings and Native Americans are non-descriptive. The audience views only the aftermath, between the two cultures and has to glean what it can from the scant, often brief dialog and bleak pictures. There is very little help from the Musical direction and since it drones on and on, one expects the director to have fallen asleep at the wheel. To say that this is an Art Picture is not saying much, but I suppose I could be wrong. ***
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God was I wrong!
zaddles21 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Was I wrong to believe the reviewers who felt there was something profound about this film. I didn't see much of a view into mankind. I tried using my brain but perhaps it is too burnt out on Hollywood candy to fathom real cinematic art.

What did I see? People who live on the side of a hill keep fighting slaves and bet on them. Attendance is low however, possibly due to the Christians slaughtering all the other pagans. Times are tough all over.

Sailors are superstitious. OK, we've seen this theme before.

Christian crusaders are insane zealots. Yeah, well, does the word Duhh mean anything to you? The silent warrior has visions and communicates though a young boy. Yeah, OK, there's no reason for this, so maybe the warrior is the true messenger of god and those who talk about god are really just motivated by ambition and greed. Big whoop.

Everybody seems to want to be dead, get home by dying, say something to the dead they missed while alive or otherwise sit around and rot rather than do anything productive.

The kid lives. Youth is our hope for the future.

God was I wrong to watch that thing. A Scotland travelogue would be just as scenic. Watch Braveheart, there's some cool shots of hills in that too and the message is clear enough for dummies like me.

Whenever I read a negative review, I'd like to know what that person thinks is good. District 9 is the most recent movie I can think of that really made me pay attention. The daring to present the Afrikaner in all his bigotry, the effects and the redemption story struck me as a masterpiece.
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For men only
jeremyweston1316 March 2010
OK first review so not so much a review but more of an astonishment. A phenomenal piece of work that I'm sure will stick in the little grey cells for a while. Touches on many issues at deceptively deep levels. The rise of Christianity and its nonsense versus the nature of man and his innate morality. Importantly and despite the tensions, it gives you the time to digest the motivations of Iron age man. You become Iron age man. Women do not feature and they can think themselves lucky. Brutal fights. And when I say brutal I mean you do not see men but animals. You see man the animal. Breathtaking stuff. I saw this in Paris today and of the 10 or so people to leave the cinema, all bar one were female. The other was a trudging male. The main character does a fantastic job of being a guardian angel in disguise. The source of such brutality is so engagingly pure, that without uttering a single syllable he carries the group of crusaders with him. He is iron age warrior and if you saw him in the street he would not be your first choice for theatre advice. For one he is mute, has one eye and wields an axe. If you do not know exactly where I am going with this don't be alarmed as neither do I. Do however go and see why for yourselves.
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A Bizarre & Uncomfortable Art Film
Angel Clare20 August 2013
As far as bizarre and uncomfortable art films go, Nicolas Winding Refn's Valhalla Rising is pretty tame. In fact, it is so comparatively tame that the film's marketers felt they could serve it up as an action-packed Viking film—a terrible decision that caused the film to be a horrendous flop; because after all, this is a bizarre and uncomfortable art film. When I say "tame," of course, I do not mean it does not have an explicit evisceration scene—because it does—I mean it has a relatively discernible plot and characters with names.

The protagonist, One Eye (Mads Mikkelsen in a stark, fearsome performance), does not say a single word in the entire film. The other characters do a lousy job of filling in the silence, for I think I counted somewhere in the vicinity of twenty-four lines in total.

In addition to long periods of silence, the film also features clay-covered voodoo rock men, inverted dream sequences (I think), and a lot of existential symbolism—making it, without a doubt, a very bizarre and uncomfortable art film.

(Disclaimer: The film features starkly beautiful cinematography and brilliant performances. Certainly worth watching)
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Audiences Will Be Split
Marjeez23 July 2010
Valhalla Rising came out of nowhere, the trailer looked promising and had a "300" vibe to it. It looked stylized but realistic, brutal and with a respectable story. A plethora of aspects were extremely disappointing. The first few minutes are an outstanding way to start off this film, but the fifty minutes after are extremely boring. I was tempted to leave. While I enjoy a nice story with brutal action, there isn't much of a story here. It's more about the mythology than the story., and you'll hope for something to occur as each pointless minute passes along until the credits start to roll. It is one that is open to interpretation but most people won't bother. It simply doesn't make sense, and it has that "House of 1000 Corpses" random picture factor that gives it an easy way to be called unique. "One Eye" was the only iconic character in this film, the rest have a 21st century feeling in the way they look and dress. The world was often too grim and dark to fully enjoy the scenery. The attention to detail is impressive but felt only known to the writers as Valhalla Rising failed to present what it wanted to towards the audience.

I do applaud the filmmakers for creating a respectable indie film with their limited resources. Its' best features are the voices/sound effects, the vibrant (almost pink) blood in the dark setting and the brutal (but limited) action sequences.

Simply put, I am extremely disappointed. In the end, if you're looking for a brutal film with an epic storyline, you won't find one here. If you want something unique to everything else out there, a film with an underlying deep meaning like no other film out there, you may find Valhalla Rising worth your time. Audiences will be split.
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