I decided to write reviews of films on my blog too.
Valhalla Rising is about as far from a Disney film as you can get. It focuses on a vicious fighter, named One Eye by his friend, who escapes from his pagan captors and joins a group of Christian Vikings who seem to be on a mission to convert everyone else to Christianity. They try and sail to the Holy Land to go on a crusade there, but end up somewhere completely different.
This film has little dialogue and only a vague plot, but it is hypnotic. The sheer scariness of the Dark Ages: no one knew what was ‘out there’ or what to do about it; the complete silence of the world in the days before machines were invented; the random acts which people did just because they could, and there would be no consequences.
In modern society, our behaviour is regulated by laws and unspoken codes, but in the Dark Ages, anyone could do anything they liked just because they wanted to.
Valhalla Rising is horrifically violent in bursts, but filled with wonder at the natural environment otherwise. None of the characters knows what is going on or has a plan, and neither does the audience.
These days, films have a plot, characters we can empathise with and a meaningful ending. We have got used to that idea so completely that it seems normal. But Valhalla Rising has none of these characteristics, it is almost a documentary on Vikings and their behaviour- people doing things because they can.
I liked the fact that the actors chosen were not Hollywood stars, made up and beautified to within an inch of their lives. Instead they were older, grizzled, grimy, ordinary looking, which was far more realistic. However, they were too old, most over forty years old, some around sixty. Until very recently, humans just didn’t live that long, especially warriors. Thirty was a good age for most Vikings, around 50% were dead by that age, and the vast majority dead by age forty.
Buy it if you dare!