Saturday, January 16, 2010

Watching for... VALHALLA RISING

Mark Olsen on the Toronto International Film Festival
Film Comment, November-December 2009
"Nicolas Winding Refn's VALHALLA RISING stood out, coming hard on the heels of his psychotronic prison picture BRONSON. Refn builds stylistically on some of the tactics he explored in his earlier film, with bold expressionistic colors, vividly stylized sound design, and an unblinking attitude toward on-screen brutality. In VALHALLA, frequent Refn collaborator Mads Mikkelsen - something of a Danish De Niro to Refn's Scandinavian Scorses - plays a Viking warrior tho makes his way to the New World as an involuntary member of an expedition of religious pilgrims. Spicy and meditative, the film was described by the director as science fiction without the science, and the description holds, as VALHALLA RISING is somehow both brutal and beautiful in its hypnotically relentless push foreward. Ref'ns film spurred no small amount of critical back-and-forth; some were left scratching their heads and others found a certain brutish transcendence."

Olaf Moller on the Venice Film Festival
Film Comment, November-December 2009
"Just as unclassifiable (as BETWEEN TWO WORLDS) was Nicolas Winding Refn's trancy-experimental VALHALLA RISING - think Rammstein meets Tarkovsky. A Viking passion play set during the chaotic transition from Norse paganism to Christianity, it starts out as a full-frontal, no-holds-barred gorefest; silent bare-knuckle gladiator One Eye wins one fight after another, until he escapes his captors and falls in with a band of Christian Vikings. They embark on a crusade to liberate Jerusalem but, after months at sea, end up in America. By remaining a true Viking to the end, One Eye becomes a Christian martyr wih no name, his journey of self-realization culminatning in one final moment of absolute clarity."

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