Review: Valhalla Rising DVD

Valhalla Rising DVD boxSTUDIO: IFC | DIRECTOR: Nicolas Winding Refn | CAST: Mads Mikkelsen, Maarten Stevenson, Gordon Brown, Andrew Flanagan
RELEASE DATE: 11/30/10 | PRICE: DVD $24.98
SPECS: NR | 90 min. | Adventure | 2.35:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

IFC Midnight presents Valhalla Rising by Denmark’s Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson, Pusher). As much a filmic poem as a narrative, the independent adventure film tells of Northern Europeans in the time when heathens were “pushed to the fringes of the Earth” by “men … bearing crosses.”

Mads Mikkelson (who memorably tortured a naked Daniel Craig in the 2006 James Bond reboot Casino Royale) plays a mute known only as One-Eye. Held captive and forced to fight in a death sport for his captors entertainment, he escapes and joins Christians heading to the Crusades. When their boat drifts on still seas, they end up in North America, where they become prey to (largely unseen) native savages (think a Northern version of Herzog’s Aguirre: Wrath of God).

The story is told in spare but striking pageant-like tableaux. Misty mountains, rough-hewn faces and brilliant sunscapes are gorgeously photographed. Refn’s stately pace at times makes Tarkovsky look like John Woo (though Woo of Face/Off fame would approve scenes of disembowelment and severed heads). Valhalla Rising is primal, yes, and with limited dialog, but it will work for those who take their films raw and uncompromising.

Pop a peyote button and enjoy!


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About David

David Leopold is an actor, writer and videographer who would take a Sherpa ride up a Tibetan mountain to see an Edwige Feuillère movie.