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There is nothing pleasant about Refn's nightmarish world (filmed on location in Scotland) where men wear sodden rags, tromp through mud and wage wet battles to the death. An oppressive fog covers all, and scarred men stare quietly into space desperately searching for definition. Small campfires provide little warmth, and what few women are seen are naked and chained together as slaves. Harsh does not begin to scratch the surface of Refn's haunting imagery (aided by Morten Søborg's brilliant cinematography and a fascinating musical score of Peter Kyed and Peter Peter). Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen displays unique presence as a one-eyed viking, appropriately named One Eye. He's evidently a captive, residing in a wooden cage and carefully fed like a lion by the orphaned blond boy Are (Maarten Stevenson).Read more ›
A mute slave, One Eye, is forced by his captors to fight. One day, he finds an old arrowhead by submerging himself in a waterpool located on some mountain upland, after having a dream about the event. Later, One Eye uses the arrowhead to free himself and kill his captors. From this, his mind forms an abstract construct about submersion in water giving him the key that unlocks his freedom. An unnamed slave boy accompanies the newly freed One Eye, and they encounter a group of Christian Scots-Gaelic warriors who are on their way to the Crusades. One Eye and the boy board the Christians' ship, and with them sail away into a dense sea fog that does not lift until they find their ship has somehow left the sea and floated inland along the course of an unnamed river. Their location is uncertain and soon becomes a point of contention among the travelers.
In this unfamiliar land, One Eye and his companions encounter some signs of human habitation: raised wooden biers holding decayed corpses and tribal religious paraphernalia stand in a lightly wooded area. Pay attention here, and you can see near this location a waterpool or small pond with the trunk of a dead, sun-bleached tree rising out of the water, or from the shore. There is a scene where the group is approaching the biers, and the waterpool/tree is there between them and the biers; another waterpool/dead tree tableau can be seen briefly for a moment behind and to the right of the leader of the Christian warriors.Read more ›
Story-wise, the film is at times quite surreal and ends in such a non-Hollywood sort of way that absolutely guarantees a low rating from many "reviewers". If you recall Terry Gilliam's battles to end "Brazil" the way he wanted, and not the Hollywood way, you'll have a feel for how this goes. It's quite brave, really. At the same time, it brings Mikkelsen's wild, dangerous character to a level of sacrifice and honor that few protagonists ever attain.
If you glance at the ratings, you'll see that people either love or hate this film. I've got to point out, though... these people giving this film 1 star shouldn't be rating films anywhere. A 1 is a preposterous rating for a film of such excellent cinematic quality, not to mention Mikkelsen's performance. Now, the easy thing to say is that these folks give a 1 to anything that doesn't have explosions in it, or f-bombs, or isn't an over-hyped piece of Hollywood excess. No doubt that is the case for many of these people... they'd be better off watching "Armageddon" for the 400th time than watching this film, which requires some thought and appreciation. But maybe they didn't get into it... fine. But a 1 rating is a joke.
4 out of 5
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic film, but not for just anybody. It has a surreal flavor to it, similar to El Topo by Alejandro Jodorowsky. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Harry
A mysterious one-eyed warrior (Mads Mikkelsen) accompanies a group of Crusaders on their quest for the Holy Land, finding only a futile descent into Hell. Read morePublished 26 days ago by David Bonesteel
Funny how the majority of the negative reviews for this movie are "Durr, I don't get it". Says more about the reviewers than the film. Read morePublished 29 days ago by Frank
One of the most different movies I have purchased. Mads Nicholson Mikkelsen gave a stellar performance for a man that had no dialogue to speak but had to do something not every... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Peter H. Stroem Jr.
This film borders on greatness. The ONLY thing, I believe, that stops me from giving it five stars is the moiring in the scenes in the boat in fog.
The story is very grim. Read more
Somewhere at some time I saw this movie and could only think of "one eye".....so I entered "one eye" in the Fandango seach page and somehow it came up with Valhalla... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Dennis