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Valhalla Rising


Jeff Nelson

Valhalla Rising most certainly won't appeal to most audiences and is only worth while for those who want to see some seriously beautiful cinematography and visuals

Valhalla Rising
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There aren't many films out there that are poetic in their visuals. I enjoy dissecting films and the hidden meanings behind the film when I walk out of movies such as these. You could talk about Valhalla Rising for quite some time about the symbolism and many meanings that some may miss. However, there are times when some movies need to know when to pick up the pace.

One Eye, a mute warrior of supernatural strength, has been held prisoner by the Norse chieftain Barde. Aided by Are, a boy slave, One Eye slays his captor and escapes with Are. The two board a Viking vessel, but the ship is soon surrounded by endless fog that only clears once the crew sights an unknown land. As the new world reveals its secrets and the Vikings confront their bloody fate, One Eye discovers his true self. It's definitely not a film that's easy to summarize without giving it all away. The plot is interesting and it's truly unpredictable throughout. The entire film is completely filled with hidden meanings and symbolism, in which most are very subtle. There's no need for me to critique the dialogue since there's an extremely small amount throughout. One Eye is a mute, so no dialogue is muttered from him and very few lines are said from Are and the crew. The huge downfall of the film is the pacing. It's so slow that I'm sure will put many viewers to sleep. One piece of advice, just because there isn't much dialogue, you still have to pay extremely close attention to the film or you'll be lost.

Since there isn't much dialogue to recite, the actors have to rely on presence and body movements to express their characters. Mads Mikkelsen performs as One Eye and performs very well. It must be an extremely tough character to pull off since he has to communicate with the audience without speaking one word. The rest of the cast is acceptable, but there's no one that stands out above the rest, other than Mikkelsen.

The only aspect of this film that honestly kept me awake was the visuals. They're absolutely breath-taking in every way. I'm not talking about explosions, car chases, or guns. I'm talking about camera work, cinematography, and the way that the violence is depicted. This film becomes very brutal at times, but shows it in an artistic way. The death of each character is shown in such a poetic style that it puts a large effect on the audience, even without knowing the character well. This film largely depends on its visuals, but not in the Hollywood way.

The reason I didn't particularly enjoy this film is that it's so slow and feels dragged out. It's a great film to dissect and get into a large discussion over with a group, but isn't the type of film to just casually watch. Even after closely following the film, it may be hard to know exactly what happened at some moments and I can imagine that multiple viewings would be necessary for those wanting to know more. Valhalla Rising most certainly won't appeal to most audiences and is only worth while for those who want to see some seriously beautiful cinematography and visuals.

My Rating = Two and One Half Stars

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