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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Macho mysticism: America a thousand years ago
"Severed Ways"
Directed by Tony Stone
(Magnolia Films, 2009)
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NOTE: Spoilers below
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It is amazing to realize that Viking explorers came to North America over a thousand years ago -- fully five hundred years before the Spanish,...
Published on July 28, 2009 by DJ Joe Sixpack

versus
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "out there" but oddly compelling art film
***1/2

As I was saying just the other day, you simply don't see enough good, old-fashioned Viking dramas these days, do you? Then, lo and behold, what should appear but "Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America" to help fill the void and make us all wiser as to just how brutal and savage life could be at the turn of the last millennium (the movie is set in...
Published on August 15, 2009 by Roland E. Zwick


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "out there" but oddly compelling art film, August 15, 2009
By 
This review is from: Severed Ways (DVD)
***1/2

As I was saying just the other day, you simply don't see enough good, old-fashioned Viking dramas these days, do you? Then, lo and behold, what should appear but "Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America" to help fill the void and make us all wiser as to just how brutal and savage life could be at the turn of the last millennium (the movie is set in 1007 A.D.). However, let it be noted for the action fans in the audience that "Severed Ways" is, if anything, an "art" Nordic drama, a documentary-style, largely wordless cross between "Quest for Fire" and "The New World" - with even a bit of "The Blair Witch Project" thrown in for good measure (the palsied camerawork is what reminds us most of that film).

Orn and Volnard (don't ask me which is which) are two young Norsemen who have embarked on an expedition to North America with other members of their tribe. When their compatriots are killed in a battle with some natives called Skraelings, the two strapping lads flee to the forest where they hide out, search for food, build a makeshift shelter and fight off packs of ravenous animals. They also encounter a couple of Christian monks and more of those dreaded Skraelings. Heck, there's even a doe-eyed squaw named Abenaki who drugs and kidnaps one of the boys and makes passionate love to him in her thatched wigwam.

I must admit I kind of admire the sheer lunacy of producer/writer/director/editor Tony Stone's vision (he also plays Ork, which makes him pretty much a one-man show on this film). After all, it isn't often one comes across a movie set in the 11th Century that also features a highly eclectic and utterly anachronistic musical soundtrack ranging in style from pseudo-headbanger to ersatz-Rachmaninoff to quasi-Enya to flat-out monster truck rally commercial. Just for the record, however, the actual recording artists include Popul Vuh, Dimmu Borger, Judas Priest, and Burzum, among others. Actually, the score is probably the single most intriguing aspect of the movie.

I`m not sure of the wisdom of having these ancient warriors speaking in subtitled modern slang ("This fish is killer," "We`re toast if we stay here," etc.), since it encourages us to giggle right at the moments when we should be taking the story most seriously.

Nevertheless, the movie does earn itself some points for its complete lack of sentimentality as well as for its refusal to shy away from depicting the harsh, brutal realities of life at that time (one does wonder, though, just how many trees and animals may have been hurt in the making of this film). Yet, even here Stone goes too far at points. Stark realism is one thing, but watching an actor literally emptying his bowels in full view of the camera is quite another. Still, I guess that's one way of ensuring for yourself and your work a permanent place of record in the annals of motion picture history.

"Severed Ways" may be easy to poke fun at, but it's so utterly out-there and loopy - and so doggedly sincere in that loopiness - that you simply can't help but be drawn into it. In all honesty, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about "Severed Ways," but I am sure that I will never forget it.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Macho mysticism: America a thousand years ago, July 28, 2009
This review is from: Severed Ways (DVD)
"Severed Ways"
Directed by Tony Stone
(Magnolia Films, 2009)
----------------------------------------------------------
NOTE: Spoilers below
----------------------------------------------------------
It is amazing to realize that Viking explorers came to North America over a thousand years ago -- fully five hundred years before the Spanish, French and British colonized the continent. This film is set in the era of the Viking expansion, in the year 1007, when a Viking landing party near Newfoundland falls afoul of a band of "skraelings" (Indians), and leaves two men behind when the skraelings attack. The two castaways pull themselves together and decide to hike cross-country to seek the Viking settlement of Vinland; along the way they confront two aspects of the new, future world -- the unknown frontier and a new religion, Christianity, which (in this script, at least) now challenges the "old ways" of the Norse gods of Odin, Thor, et. al.

The movie is an ode to the mythologized Viking spirit which has been seized on by some metalheads as an emblem for their music, but even with this seemingly blunt premise, the film has a surprisingly meditative feel. Although some of the hand-held effects are trying, overall the cinematography is sweeping, evocative and expressive -- the scenes of nature and the endless woods of the Eastern seaboard are continually arresting, and the illusion of these two men being stranded in the 11th Century wilderness is convincing. There is very little dialogue (and all of it is dubbed into Nordic dialect) with most of the story being told visually, with surprising effectiveness. Some sequences seem gratuitous -- most notably Tony Stone's character seen relieving himself in the woods, with Stone actually defecating onscreen; there is also a scene in which a church is burned and the smoldering cross is felled by an axe. It's heavyhanded, but ultimately it fits into the vision of the script. Here we see the first thoughtless marauding of European men into the interior of North America; they are violent, frightened and destructive, but also resourceful and bold, and in search of a new way of life. A film that could have been loud and loutish is instead thoughtful and evocative, with a soundtrack to match, both eerie and subtle, and hardly the chord-crunching metalfest you might imagine.

Viewers (and potential viewers) will be split on this film... I imagine most people will avoid it because of what they assume it will be like, but it is not the crude Conan The Barbarian film they foresee. To be sure, there are elements of this macho swords-and-sandals mythology at play, but on the whole this is a rather effective, believable semi-historical drama about man-versus-nature, and the tragedy of man-versus-man. It's a more mature film than you might imagine, and destined to be a cult favorite for a certain brand of film fans, mainly those creative re-enactment types who value realism and historical narratives. Definitely worth checking out, if you think it's at all something you'd enjoy. (Joe Sixpack, Slipcue film review blog)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Seventh Seal soundtrack is Swedish, not Old Norse, September 18, 2011
This review is from: Severed Ways (DVD)
The spoken soundtrack of this movie is in Swedish, not Old Norse. It is recycled from Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" and has nothing to do with the subtitles. This is why it does not sync up. Adds some atmosphere and rather amusing if you do understand Swedish.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Seriously?, April 27, 2013
By 
I love watching films that have some historical reference or fact. Even if they're brutal and bloody. I was really looking forward to watching this film. After all I hail from these barbarians. I can normally get through any film. Despite how slow and awkward it goes. The camera work in the beginning, although i can appreciate creativity. I do not appreciate severe repetition ..ok we see the stones moving, next.

Then came the slang. "we're toast if we stay here" ..I had to go read the title again 'The Norse Discovery of America'. ok it's not a comedy..lets stick w/ the reality.

Then there came the s*** in the woods. No literally, s***ting in the woods. That ws as far as I could go. I understand the desire to offend and shock the audience. I understand wanting to express your creative flow because you can. But there has to be some moral compass in which you guide yourself. Yes we get it, we've all s*** in the woods or our ancestor has. There's no reason we need to see it. I simply took it as a sign that it represents what the feeling of the maker of this film thought of his work and I stopped watching.

I'm sure even mentioning it is giving people the desire to see it. But maturity is as maturity does.
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars VIKINGS! (but thank god there's no horns), July 27, 2009
By 
This review is from: Severed Ways (DVD)
Stoked its finally released on dvd. Saw this at Angelika and it rocked. This is really an excellent film-nothing else like it out right now. The reasons to like Severed Ways are pretty much the same reasons that some of its critics don't get it. Yes, it is a Viking flick that is neither a swashbuckling/love story nor a Monty Python skit. That is a GOOD THING! It picks up on a footnote from a Viking saga and imagines two young Vikings left behind and lost in America. They struggle to survive. They work. They attempt to WALK home and into Viking lore! Its shot in Newfoundland and it's retardedly beautiful. Even some critics were saying it's worth it for that alone...others got bored by this which is totally lazy... Also, this film is a breathe of fresh air. A lot of new films have a huge script about a cool dude crying about his girlfriend in a bar and there are a bunch of telephone calls and then in the end everybody breaks out their guns and heroine. BIG FREAKING DEAL--seen it all before! Rest assured there is none of that garbage in this movie and finally there is a film breaking the mold. You actually get a singular film experience, something to talk about- maybe even argue about. The depiction of natural beauty is not SW's only epic aspect. It also shows the clash of civilizations in a thoughtful way. There are several carefully scripted vignettes in which these vikings talk about, remember and confront both the rise of Christianity in Europe, and their fears of the skraelings(Native Americans) These confrontations become very real when strange monks and skraelings cross their path. You will be caught off guard by the alternately brutal and tenderhearted ways all of these characters behave with each other. Won't spoil it, but it's not what you expect.

Soundtrack: also epic.

It's a meditation on the impossible.

MAKE MORE MOVIES LIKE THIS
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't bother, March 9, 2013
This film was so bad. The camera was moving so much that we shut it off because I got motion sick.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dont waste your time, watch Twilight instead, March 5, 2013
This....was... a waste of time... Wow...2hrs of my life I will never get back. The footage was amateur, the lens was oil stained for most of it. There was soo much time dedicated to BAD montages and editing. Do yourself a favor and watch the glittering Vampire from Twilight before you watch this. At least then you'd have something to say was worse then Twilight. XP I love vikings...but this was...not an action movie as described.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Yuck!, February 28, 2013
By 
J. Whitten "Book lovin' librarian" (Carrollton, Georgia United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Morose movie, morose music and not anything like I anticipated. I would not recommend this movie to anyone - just skip right on over this one!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great idea, horrible movie, September 9, 2012
This is obviously a film school homework project. It sounded like a decent movie, but the actual execution of it was horrible to say the least.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Whatever you'll think of it, at least it's original., October 19, 2009
This review is from: Severed Ways (DVD)
I was thoroughly entertained watching this film. Or video rather. The videowork is exceptional, the soundtrack is fantastic and the overall pacing and feel of the film is unlike anything I've seen in recent memory. Some would call it an art film but that suggests (to me) slogging your way through it only to end up feeling resentful. Granted it's leisurely paced but ultimately this allows the viewer to actually ponder what life may have been like a thousand years ago rather than be subjected to the usual onslaught of narrative exposition. If you're feeling adventurous, give Severed Ways a shot. At the very least, you'll find it thought-provoking.
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Severed Ways
Severed Ways by Tony Stone (DVD - 2009)
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