Valhalla Rising’s poster and promo videos are rather misleading. You think you’re about to watch some Braveheart sort of movie with lots of Viking fighting but what you find is a strangely haunting movie with beautiful scenes and imagery but a rather queer plot.
The main character is a mute warrior called One-Eye, first a prisoner forced to fight for survival and amusement with other criminals. He then breaks free and is recruited to join a band of Christians in seeking out Jerusalem to participate in the Holy War.
Without revealing too much, the story revolves around the interactions of these Christian warriors with One-Eye a focal point, arousing suspicion, superstition and fear leading to the disintegration of the Christians, the questioning of their faith and the hypocrisy of their word.
Shot entirely in Scotland, the imagery of the film is amazing. Mystical hills covered in mist and lush taiga forests form the setting of this tale and if you watch with a large screen and a good sound system, I assure you will be immersed in the beautiful cinematography.
Valhalla Rising is not for everyone though. To me, it was rather draggy for me with long sections of seemingly aimless talking and a plot that’s more about the frailty of human emotions and faith rather than an actual story. At times I feel it tries to be a bit too artistic and lose the story telling bit. However I did enjoy it for what it is which is a unique piece of poetic cinematography. If you want a strange and beautiful movie and have some time to kill, I would recommend it. Don’t expect a satisfying ending though…
Word of warning: don’t watch this with the kids unless you want him to develop funny. Has some graphic gory scenes with intestines coming out and such with rather creepy imagery.