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Police detective offers an explanation of the film,
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This review is from: Valhalla Rising (DVD)
Ok, don't read this review unless you have already seen `Valhalla Rising'. Because a lot of people still don't seem to get it, here's a capsule explanation of exactly what happens in the film, from someone who examines evidence of crimes and from that puts together suspects' MOs, serial killer methodologies, etc:
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. One Eye somehow makes the connection that these waterpool/dead tree tableaus have spiritual significance to the land's native inhabitants, else they wouldn't have chosen to honor their dead in that place.
Later, the leader of the Christian warriors, who was allowed to travel through the unnamed land unmolested up until that point, is shot dead with arrows while standing waist-deep in a small pond. Note: to his left stands a dead, sun-bleached tree rising out of the water. Was the warrior-leader shot for violating the native inhabitants' "holy ground" by standing in the pond?
Recall the earlier scene in which all of the characters drink some unnamed psychoactive liquor from a carved wooden bottle, and then all proceed to succumb to various kinds of drug-induced mania and/or religious ecstasy on the shores of a still lagoon. After drinking, One Eye glances over his shoulder toward a distant rocky promontory, where the native inhabitants are presumed to be hiding and watching; One Eye does this to let them know he's aware they are there.
Then, standing apart from the maddened, drug-dazed crowd, One Eye constructs a column-like structure of stones on a small islet near the shores of the lagoon. Note that when he begins this task, One Eye sets the first stone atop the stump of a dead tree. He is sending the watching tribesmen the message that he understands their religion: he knows what their holy places are, where spirits are presumed to dwell. And so One Eye himself constructs a new "holy place."
At the end of the film, before One Eye is beaten to death, he envisions himself (his spirit?) walking into the waters of that lagoon where he built the stone column; then he (or his spirit) is submerged, the head disappearing under the water's surface, like he did near the beginning of the film when he found the arrowhead that eventually aided him in freeing himself. Only this time, the audience is supposed to surmise that the freedom One Eye seeks (and gets, through the death of his physical body) is spiritual freedom, as opposed to his physical freedom earlier. One Eye's physical body dies, and his spirit enters the waters of the lagoon where he built the "holy place" marker, to become one of the native inhabitants' gods.
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Showing 1-10 of 20 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 5, 2011 12:00:08 AM PDT
the sad clown says:
one eye is Odin, the boy goes back to tell the story of Odin.
In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2011 6:30:09 PM PDT
Demon Ninja says:
Odin the norse god? that doesn't make sense to me. the boy throughout the movie is always saying he doesn't know where his "home" is. to me the whole reason for the movie itself is not about One Eye's journey but of the boys journey. you see, One Eye is an "angel" of sorts. a guardian angel for the boy. the the whole reason One Eye gained freedom is so that he could guide the child to his actual home. that being in north america. once One Eye knows he has accomplished this, he lets himself die. i'm pretty sure he could've taken out the native americans all by his lonesome, but he was just tired of living. its sort of like he finally goes to Valhalla in the end. and the boy now has another chance to live in the New World. just my pov.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 31, 2012 4:05:26 PM PST
He is the idea of Odin, The One Eyed Norse God. Odin used the boy to get him to America, and pass on his story to the new world, because the old world was over-run by the new christians.
In reply to an earlier post on May 6, 2012 4:27:30 PM PDT
Jack Crow says:
How is the kids home in north america when he has a scotish accent? I think his home was back where he came from. probably a couple hundred miles away somewhere
Posted on Jul 17, 2012 8:53:39 AM PDT
I have yet to see this film, but I would like to compliment you on your review. I thought it was outstanding! I was most impressed by your
expert attention to details and your interpretations of their meaning. You have certainly peaked my interest and it sounds like a film I would
enjoy watching. Many thanks for all of the time and effort you put into this excellent review.
Posted on Jul 31, 2012 3:15:09 PM PDT
Carla S Spahos says:
This is one of the best reviews I've ever read. Not just for this movie (which is a difficult movie to interpret), but any movie. Thanks for posting this!
Posted on Dec 28, 2012 12:02:23 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 28, 2012 12:03:09 AM PST
Chris H. says:
Excellent review! I thought this movie was amazing and I saw it pretty much the way your review described it, which is why I don't understand so many peoples negative reactions to it. I guess because it wasn't an obvious story or all spelled out for some people, not sure. The reference to Odin that some of the commenters mentioned was definitely something I didn't get. Anyway, thanks for posting this, I hope that people who still haven't seen it will see your post before reading the negative ones.
Posted on Mar 21, 2013 6:07:08 PM PDT
M. S. Eibon says:
Great review!!! This is showing the "birth" of Odin for future peoples. You completely got it.
Posted on Jan 4, 2014 4:03:04 PM PST
J. Sun says:
Posted on Jan 31, 2014 9:20:12 AM PST
Also, notice that in the scene at the end of the film, when One Eye leaves the boy and begins walking towards the group of native warriors, he looks back over his left shoulder at the boy, essentially viewing the boy primarily with his left eye, but his left eye was put out. Perhaps One Eye's use of his blind eye to look back was supposed to indicate that now he was able to see with that eye, as though a species of enlightenment had taken place, a sort of "I was blind but now I can see" moment. Now that he's finally able to see with his blind eye, One Eye knows that the spiritual fulfillment he was seeking has taken place, and he's therefore ready to sacrifice himself and become one of the native inhabitants' lake gods.