Valhalla Rising

Valhalla Rising

Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn


A strange, somber “missionary tale” of sorts. A group of Vikings take a wrong turn and end up accidentally in the new world, where they’re met by unfriendly strangers.

Set in the transitional times between pagan worship and burgeoning Christian movement, this is a dreamlike, misty affair. Mads Mikkelsen plays a savage, one eyed, taciturn cage fighter who, after escaping his captors, finds himself in league with some zealots that are out to seek the Holy Land. When their boat falters, taking them wildly off course, they find themselves subject to new forms of hostility and desperation.

This is no average Viking film, gone are the silly braids, helmets and facial hair (well, no, the facial hair is still there). Nor is it some over-the-top comic book style film. It’s quiet in tone (and, naturally, silent in performance from the lead), demanding of its audience to be sure. Still, the lush mountains of Scotland where the film was shot are sufficiently brooding to create a great mood of menace. The story, while highly allegorical, is nonetheless quiet enjoyable.

Frankly, this is the type of film you can only generally see at festival’s like TIFF. While it eschews almost all elements that would make it a commercial success, it does provide a compelling enough tale to make it exactly the type of fare that one should seek out during their festival experience.

Grade: B+


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