'Valhalla Rising' [Blu-ray]
(Mads Mikkelsen, Alexander Morton, Maarten Stevenson, et al / Blu-ray / NR / (2009) 2020 / IFC Independent Film)
Overview: 'Valhalla Rising' is a brutally beautiful Viking film with international star Mads Mikkelsen ('Casino Royale,' 'Clash Of The Titans') as One-Eye, a chained prisoner forced to fight to the death for the entertainment of his captors.
When One-Eye escapes, he stumbles upon a group of warriors headed to the Crusades. But fate has something else in store, as the men drift into the New World, where savages stalk them one by one in increasingly violent ways.
Is One-Eye an avenging angel or just the guiltiest of them all? The answers can be found in this ruthless, hallucinatory, one of a kind journey.
Blu-ray Verdict: Acclaimed Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn follows his worldwide smash 'Pusher' trilogy and the widely praised 'Bronson' with his most daring film yet!
IFC's June 2nd re-release of 'Valhalla Rising' means we all get to rewatch anew one of the best films that, in my humble opinion, Refn have ever made, available now (since its original release 11 years ago) on Blu-ray for the very first time!
In a film where there are approximately only 120 lines of dialogue in the entire run, where lead actor Mads Mikkelsen has no dialog at all, and where the first line of dialogue is spoken seven minutes in, let alone the fact that Refn has admitted that he conceived the film as some sort of acid trip, I mean, come on now, what's already not to love about 'Valhalla Rising'?!
Presented by surrealist filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, one could argue that, for the most part, the grim-faced Mikkelsen as the line-less One-Eye, simply hauling around a blonde, cold looking boy (Maarten Stevenson) who cryptically "interprets" for him as the camera shows off lots of close ups of One-Eye, is as on-the-nose as it gets!
But, to look deeper and begin to fully comprehend the film one must be able to understand the symbolism behind historical and cultural themes that come into play.
It is a spiritual, psychological journey to inspire intellectual contemplation on universal themes such as the evolution and/or dissociative fragmentation of human consciousness through times of oppression, change and entropy.
The film connoisseur finds recognizable elements in the movie reminiscent of classic films by some of the legendary directors throughout time.
Indeed, it rather reminds me of Ingmar Bergman's early films, especially 'Silent Spring' and the brilliant 'Seventh Seal.'
As I'm sure you can relate now, this is no Hollywood blockbuster littered with hours of talking for, as aforementioned, what there is of it, the communication is sparse and often on edge when it does occur.
This is yet another element to this movie that shows it's strength as a motion picture in general for it does not need an over elaborate script, because the silence requires you to observe the unspoken words.
In closing, I personally considered this movie, even at the time, to be one of the best movies I have seen in many years, and now out on Blu-ray for the very first time in 11 years, well, it is ripe for your evenings home (lockdown) entertainment, my friends.
Oh, and as for some fun trivia about 'Valhalla Rising,' One-Eye was a nickname for Oden (Odin), who in the Norse legends gave one of his eyes as a sacrifice to the well of Mimer to get wisdom. The sacrifice also gave him the power to see hidden things.
And the idea of One-Eye being a mute came to Nicolas Winding Refn in a dream where One-Eye could not talk. Once he woke up he phoned Roy Jacobsen and told him about the idea. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
'Valhalla Rising' from IFC Independent Films is now available nationwide to stream and on DVD and Blu Ray.
Amazon Purchase LinkS
Official 'Valhalla Rising' HD Trailer