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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).Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Presumably because these men were never heard of again, this film picks up on what may have happened to them. Realizing their predicament they decide to migrate north paralleling the coast through the woods in hopes of reaching a large Norse settlement or depot. So this movie is about their jpurney and ultimate fates.
There are several things well done and several that are not -- very sharp contrasts. The cinematography is very nice most of the time, except at the beginning and at other moments, conveying the beauty yet danger of being lost in the wilderness. There is very little dialogue which will frustrate most yet it is accurate for that time period, and as many have pointed out the subtitle translation of whatever language they are speaking (debatable according to linguistic affectionados) can be silly. The director has also chosen to use various rock music sets as the soundtrack some of which are ethereal and appropriate and some outlandish.
What I liked most about it is the portrayal of two confirmed pagans and how they would realistically react to their circumstances; resolute, inflexible and unable to adapt which causes them problems. The two indian characters are well played although we once again see these Hollywood stereotypes again like over the past 30 years of stupid bumbling white people and wise, got-it-together natives.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
what a movie!
vikings stranded in the new world
battling the skraeling natives
a thoughtful and tasteful black metal soundtrack
really a filmbook... Read more
The reviews are all over the place. I think this movie is great! I love long shots and little dialog. I love nature. I enjoy the soundtrack. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Ben Bakelaar
Pretty off beat flick- and pretty violent, not that I was bothered. I thought the Vikings were well portrayed and the situation they were thrust into was also realistic. Read morePublished 10 months ago by never never land
fantastic realistic and deep movie...however pales in comparison to valhalla rising which is a must see must have nordic gem.Published 13 months ago by wolfven