Valhalla Rising (Refn, 2009)

Valhalla Rising (Nicolas Winding Refn, 2009)

If you like vikings, excessive violence, and beautiful cinematography, this is probably the film for you. After seeing some amazing stills from this film, I had been eagerly anticipating it for a while. It probably would have done me good to wait for the dvd or blu ray, but when it became available to me through other ‘means’, I had to take advantage. With all that being said, perhaps my expectations were too high, because this wasn’t quite as good as I hoped (nor was the sound quality of my obtained version).

If I knew more about the Norse religion, this probably would have made more sense to me. The film is very open-ended, but many believe it to be a retelling of the story of Odin (who I don’t know much about). Others have actually pointed out some Christ parallels (don’t know if I agree). Regardless, the story is has an interesting mythological/theological quality to it. However, this movie was perhaps too tense. And it’s funny because an average film-goer would probably think just the opposite due to its slower pace. But I was expecting more moments where characters could just be without fear of something. The lingering fear makes the film feel a bit more distant – less real. There are still vasts amounts of poetic lingering, which I liked, but always accompanied by fear. The film features some flashforwards (backs?) that added an interesting element of non-linear storytelling to the film too, though they were filmed with a weird, fake-looking red, and I wasn’t a fan of that choice, especially because outside of those scenes there isn’t a wasted shot. Everything is beautiful, even with the violent and grisly events taking place. This is some of the most detailed and beautiful cinematography I’ve seen in a while (which means this deserves more screenshots!)  8.25/10

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