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The themes of Faith in God versus disbelief in him werenâ€™t hammered my way; they were hinted at;
strongly enough to sting and make me do the work. Same went for the shady statement on colonization and the â€śAre they in hell or not?â€ť query. Hint, hintâ€¦ no concrete answers. Yup, to spit out that VALHALLA RISING was an experience left up to oneâ€™s interpretation would be an understatement.
The flick was ALL ABOUT that shite and I loved it for it! I got my take on it ; I think its a
solid one, all good.
Visually; this one was morbid art set in motion. The striking scenery (those mountains were wow) and the eerie atmosphere (that mistâ€¦brrr) helped in making this watch an even more compelling one. The imagery was so hypnotizing that the slow burn pace never bothered me once; I was always deep in there; heart and
spirit; living the ride. Moreover, the high quotient of brutality hit the spot. It in fact often made up for the lack of physical action. Every time high grade violence would kick in; it would back-hand me stupid and I'd be a wiser man for it. And it should be said that you have to esteem a director thatâ€™s able to tackle varied genres
this efficiently. Where Bronson was an energetic character study, with a fairly kinetic camera;
Nicolas Winding Refn took a polar opposite approach to Valhalla Rising which was a surreal, symbolism heavy and style over substance effort. One that was all about wide shots; slow infectious camera movements and oppressive atmospherics. The manâ€™s got rangeâ€¦respect!
On the acting front; the whole cast was credible (Maarten Steven as the slave-boy was particularly money) and their portrayal of Vikings on a quest of Faith rang true. But at the end of the evisceration; this was Mads Mikkelsenâ€™s show through and through. The man oozed of menace, silent intensity and had â€śDonâ€™t f*ck with me or elseâ€ť stamped on his forehead. I feared him, looked up to him and wanted to buy him a beer. Add to that a brilliant sound design (the wind blowing never came off creepier) and a seldom yet unique score (industrial metal mixed in with tribal beats with a dash of spooky) and you get one hell of a death trip! Any negatives to spew? Not really. Maybe the affair was too hazy for its own good in places; or maybe not. Not sure, who cares!
For better and for worse; VALHALLA RISING was its own beast, it played by its own rules and really didnâ€™t give a frick about pleasing anybody but itselfâ€¦all good; cause I got lots of juice out of it. It was pure art house/auteur filmmaking with a macabre streak, supernatural undertones, gore galore and enough surreal bullets in its chamber to fill up five bong parties. Wanna get high with Vikings? Why the f*ck not!