Valhalla Rising (DVD)


Set in the desolate wilderness of Scotland, in 1000 AD, Danish director Winding Refn’s film focuses on the aptly names One Eye (Mikkelsen) a mute and unbeaten warrior of supernatural strength. Murdering his clan captors, and aided by young boy Are (Stevenson), One Eye makes his escape; encountering a group of Christian crusaders, the pair boards a longboat headed to the Holy Lands but, after they lose their way in fog, ends up on unknown shores. Without food or water, and preyed on by the locals, the group search desperately for a way home, led by One Eye whose vision mark him out as a prophet of sorts. As madness descends, an hellish battle for survival ensues.

It would be easy to dismiss Valhalla Rising as incomprehensible or indulgent; particularly if you were expecting a Conan the Barbarian-esque actioner. But the film reveals itself to be intense and atmospheric, with Morten Soborg’s stunning cinematography taking centre stage; the sparse opening scenes giving way—by means of that clinging fog—to the lush greens of new lands, which may look heavenly but are anything but. And the performances fit perfectly within this landscape; Mikkelsen in particular giving a mesmerising, dominating turn without uttering a single word. 4 stars

Extra Features
Includes a commentary with Winding Refn and journalist Alan Jones. 2 stars

This review was originally published in movieScope Issue #17

Mads Mikkelsen, Gary Lewis, Jamie Sives, Maarten Stevenson
Director Nicolas Winding Refn
Format DVD & Blu-ray
Distributor Momentum Pictures
Released May 17