Sunday, August 8, 2010

In Haste: Valhalla Rising

One of the worst feelings in the world: that sinking lump descending your stomach as you begin to lose faith that the story you're committed to isn't leading anywhere.  This pit of despair, this slough of despond, struck me somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes into the new film by 'hot' director Nicolas Winding Refn.

You'd think a super-violent film about Vikings meeting Christians and the afterlife would be a slam dunk.  What could go wrong?  Apparently, a lot.

What did the film lack?  Content.  It had atmosphere belching out every orifice, which is great, but I need substance.  Anything.  I just need stuff to happen, man.  To a far degree, as long as stuff happens my mind will carry us along.  But no, you just give me a horrendous bludgeoning every twenty minutes.  That's it.  Oh, and also cool chapter headings that cause me to hope that the coming scenes will hold the key to the riddle.  But ultimately, there is no riddle.  There's... well, it's all for naught.  Hrmm... that causes me think of the book of Hebrews:

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.  Hebrews 5:12-14 New American Standard Bible

I'm not entirely sure how that passage connects to this discussion, but darn it, it just feels right.  Coming out of this film, that lump in my stomach turned to rage.  I felt like I was fed sugar-water.  I wanted a meal, dammit!  Feed me! 


  1. really? This film was so hypnotic to me, and beautiful

  2. Sure, it nailed its atmosphere with a sense of hypnosis, but I yearned for more when it came to actual substance. Hypnotize me to lead me somewhere, I say, I say!

    As far as beauty is concerned, I would agree with a sense of visual beauty that abides in the film from scene to scene. I think I would find the experience more harrowing and moving if you posted the stills from it as an art exhibit.

    Perhaps my lens for watching the film was off. Valhalla Rising could, I reckon, be considered a thorough art film in the same genre as Koyaanisqatsi. If my mental expectations were on that playing field perchance my guttural reaction to the elements of the film would have been pleasanter.

    As it stands I witnessed a series of events that generated no personal investment or relationship to my life.