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WarAndGod:AnAnalysisofNicolas
WindingRefnsValhallaRising.
PostedonDecember14,2013
GreetingsLovedOnes!LiuIsTheName,AndViewsAreMyGame.
Epic,eerie,dark,disturbingthesearethefirstwordsthatcometomindwhenIhearthe
nameValhallaRising.ADanishpicture,shotinEnglishwithScottishactors,this2009film
hasbeendescribedbysomecriticsasacinematicsojournthroughhell.IdontknowifId
gosofarastocallitthat,butIdoknowthat,withitshauntingvisuals,hypnoticsoundtrack,
andharrowingexplorationsintothethemesofwar,religion,greedandnationbuilding,
ValhallaRisingisafascinating,surrealistnightmareofamovie.
Nottosuggestthatitsfreeofflaws.ValhallaRisingfallsfarshortofperfectioninseveral
areas.Itsextremelyviolent,poorlyacted,andmanyofthecharacterslackdepthorback
story.Buttheweaknessesofthefilm,oreventhestrengths,(Idgivethemovieanoverall
ratingof7outof10),arenotwhatIwanttodiscussheretoday.Imnot,strictlyspeaking,
writingareview.Why?BecauseIvealwayswantedtowriteanindepthanalysisofamovie,
andValhallaRisingisoneofthosefilmsthatssostrange,sonebulous,thatyoucanthelp
butanalyzeit.Ithasverylittledialogue,andinsteadreliesonatmospheretoconveystory
andcharacter.Afilmlikethatisjustbeggingitsviewerstodrawtheirownconclusionsasto
themeaningofitscontent.Well,Ivewatchedthefilm,thoughtaboutitdeeply,drawnmy
ownconclusions,andifyouwilldomethegreathonorofreadingfurther,Iwouldliketo
sharejustafewofmyideaswithyou.
BeforeIgoon,however,IfeellikeIshouldexplainafewdetails.Theymightseempretty
trivialnow,buthadInothadthemlurkinginthebackofmymindwhenIsawthisfilm,I
mighthavehadatotallydifferentreactiontoit.First,forthoseofyouwhoarentfamiliarwith
NordicMythology,ValhallaistheHallofOdin,theoneeyedkingofthegods.Peoplewentto
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Valhallaafterdeathif,duringlife,theyhadbeengreatwarriors.Thereasonwhyonlywarriors
couldgotoValhallaisthatOdin,aswellasalltheothergods,wasmortal,andsoneededas
manyskilledsoldiersaspossibletodefendhiminthelastgreatuniversedestroyingbattle
withtheforcesofevil.Second,itiswidelybelievedamonghistoriansthatthefirstpeopleto
setfootonNorthAmerica,aftertheNativeAmericans,wereagroupofVikingsledbyaman
namedLiefErikson.Thirdly,inhisacclaimedRevisionistWestern,BloodMeridian,author
CormacMcCarthywrites,WarisGod.There!NowIthinkyouknowenoughtogoon.
Anyway,ValhallaRisingisaninetyminuteepicdividedintosixepisodicpartsWrath,Silent
Warrior,MenofGod,TheHolyLand,Hell,andTheSacrifice.Thefilmopenswithabrief
prologue,whichstatesthat,atthedawnoftime,therewasmankindandnature,andthen
warriorsbearingcrossesdrovetheheathentothefringesoftheEarth.Themoviethenfades
intoawideshotofacold,mistcoveredhighland,anditisinthisdesolatelandscapethatwe
areintroducedtoourhero,amysteriousmutewarriorknownonlyasOneEye.Hehasbeen
takenprisonerbyagroupofPaganswhoforcehimtofightothermentothedeathfor
entertainment.Betweenbattles,heisfedandcaredforbyayoung,orphanedboy.Asthe
filmprogresses,itbecomesclearthatOneEyehasbeenendowedwiththegiftofdivination.
Eventsthataretocomeappear,bloodred,beforehimindreams.Oneofthemishisfinding
ofanoldarrowheadwhilebathinginapond.Heendsupusingthisobjecttofreehimselfand
slayhiscaptors.HesparesthelifeoftheBoywhocaredforhim,andtogethertheysetoff
foranunknowndestination.
Eventually,thetwoofthemcomeacrossaragtaggroupofCrusaders,Christiansfreshfrom
killingmalepagansandholdingallthewomenasnakedhostages.RecognizingthatOneEye
isamanofgreatstrength,theleaderoftheChristians,amanknownonlyasTheGeneral,
askshimtojointhemontheirquesttoreconquertheHolyLand.Hesaysthat,regardlessof
whetherornotOneEyesurvivestheendeavorhewillbeabsolvedofallprevioussinsand
allowedtogotoheaven.TheGeneralthenaskstheBoyifheknowsofOneEyesorigins.
TheBoy,whoseemstobeabletoreadOneEyesthoughts,saysthatOneEyewasbrought
upfromhell,andthathellisaplacesomewhereacrossthesea.Hedoesnot,however,
specifywhetherthehellwhichOneEyeclaimstohailfromistheChristianhell,orhel,the
underworldofNordicMythology.OneEyedoeseventuallyagreetojointheCrusaders,but
onlybecausehehadavisioninwhichhesawhimselfridingintheirboat.Throughoutthe
movie,hefollowsallhisvariouspremonitionswithoutquestion.
ThenextsegmentofthefilmtakesplaceontheChristiansship.Itquicklybecomesclear
thatwhatbeganasagloriousmissionfilledwithhopeandanticipationhassincespiraled
downintoadisasterfilledwithhungeranddespair.Thegrouphasbeenatseaforweeks,
andyettheydonotappeartohavegottenanyclosertotheirdesireddestination.Thereisno
wind,nocurrent,and,tomakemattersworse,adensefoghasclosedinaroundthem.Water
isrunningshort,andmanyofthemenarebeginningtostarve.Rumorsbegintocirculatethat
thevoyageiscursed.SomeofthecrewblamestheirpredicamentonTheBoy.Mutinynearly
ariseswhenadesperatecrewmemberattemptstomurderTheBoyandiskilledbyOneEye.
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Lateron,OneEyesensesachangeinthemotionoftheboat,takesadrinkfromthewater,
anddiscoversthattheyareactuallyinafreshwaterestuaryandnolongeratsea.Withthe
fogdissipating,thecrewcatchesthefirstsightoflandoffinthedistance.
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ItquicklybecomescleartothemthattheplacetheyhavearrivedatisnottheHolyLand.

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InsteadofthelargedesertsandscorchingsunoftheMiddleEast,thisnewplacehasvast
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forestsandrollinghills.Thecrewsetsouttoexplorethearea,findingneitheranimalstohunt
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norfruittoeat.Nearlystarved,theycontinueuntilcomingacrosssomeindigenousburial
sites.Oneofthecrewmembersleavesthegrouptoventureoutonhisown.Thegroup
Enteryouremailaddress
searchesforhimforhoursandsomeblameOneEyeforhisdisappearance.TheGeneral
arguesthatthereisnoproofthatOneEyekilledhim.Finallyacceptingthattheyhavenot

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reachedJerusalemandthattheirwholequestwasfornothing,thecrewpreparestheshipto
departandheadhome.Whileonthewater,thegroupistauntedbyasinglearrow,whichflies
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infromnowhereandkillsoneoftheirmen.Terrified,theysooncometobelievethattheyare

actuallyinHell.

Uponreturningtoshore,themendrinkastrangebrewgiventothembyTheGeneral.Thisis
hisdubiousmethodof..claimingthelandinHisName.Subsequenteventsdemonstrate
thatTheGeneralhasgoneinsane.OneEyehasavisionofhisultimatefate.Hewadestoa
smallislandtoconstructacairn,apileofstonesusedincertainrituals.Meanwhile,theother
mensplitupandexperienceavarietyofperceptionsandemotionsincludingapathy,
desperationanddespair.Oneprays.Oneattacksandrapesanother.Otherswanderorwait.
OneEyeandthegrouparethenconfrontedbythelostcrewmember,whoemergesfromthe
forestbarechestedandcoveredinorangebrownmudinwhichrunesandhieroglyphsare
drawn.ThislostCrusadersayshecanhearOneEyesthoughtsnowandtranslatesthatthe
warriorissayingtheyareinHell.AnothercrewmemberthenaccusesTheGeneraloflyingto
them,andOneEyeofbringingthemthere.HedisavowstheexistenceofGodandattacks
OneEye.Threepeopledieintheskirmishthatfollows.

ArrowsfromtheforestcontinuetoharasstheremainingChristiansafterthebandbreaksup.
AsthegroupsPriestpreparestofollowOneEye,TheGeneralstabshiminthesideand
declaresthathehimselfwillstayandcreateaNewJerusalemforthemenoffaith.Upon
hissubsequentappointmentofTheLostOneashischiefspiritualadviser,however,eventhe
orangemudstainedVikingmerelylaughsathim.ThewoundedPriestandTheGeneralsSon
followOneEyeupthemountains.SeveralarrowsthenhittheGeneral,whoslipsintothe
waterashedies.Theystoptorestandquestiontheirfate,turningtoOneEye.TheGenerals
Sondecidesthathemustgobacktohisfather,knowingfullwellthatthemanisprobably
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deadandthathetoowilldie.OneEyeandTheBoycontinueon,butthePriestdoesnot
follow.Mortallywounded,hesitswithfliesbuzzingallabouthim,staringblanklyintothe
valleybelow.
OneEyeandTheBoysuccessfullyreachthecoastlineandaresoonmetbyoveradozen
NativeAmericanwarriors.OneEyeregardsthemknowingly,ashehasalreadyforeseenthis
eventinavision.HeputshishandonTheBoysarm,andthenwalksintothemiddleofthe
tribesmen.Hedropshisaxeandhisknifeandcloseshiseye.Oneofthewarriorsfellshim
withoneblowtothebackofthehead,beforetheotherwarriorsfinishhimoff.
OneEyesspiritwalksintotheestuarynexttohiscairnanddisappearsbelowthesurface.
Onthebeach,theremainingtribemembersquietlywithdrawbackintotheforest,leavingthe
boylookingoutattheocean.Thefinalshotshowsagrimface,possiblyOneEyes,woven
intotheclouds.
TheresnootherwaytospinitValhallaRisingisastrangestory.Andasisoftenthecase
withstrangestories,therearemanywaystointerpretit.However,forthedurationofthis
article,Ishallfocusonjustone,myown.Tome,ValhallaRisingisthedirector,Nicholas
WindingRefns,darksatireofreligionandtraditionalperceptionsofmanhood.Thenagain,
satire,aharshtermwhichimpliesridicule,doesntquitedowhatthefilmisjustice.Yes,the
moviecertainlycriticizestheabovementionedtopicsinmuchthesamemannerasasatire
would,butitalsopayshomagetotheseconceptsaswell.
Letmeexplain.Religionisoneofthefilmsprimarythemesand,atfirstglance,itappearsas
thoughitisnothingmorethanaconceptthatthedirectorintendstothumbhisnoseat.Allthe
filmsreligiouscharactersareviolent,insane,andgreedy.Ontheonehandtherearethe
paganclansmenwho,inadditiontoworshippingmanygods,enslaveothermenandforce
themtofighttothedeathforsport,andthentherearetheChristians,whoburninfidelsatthe
stake,roundupnakedwomentobeusedassexslaves,andinvadedistantlandswiththe
hopesofforcefullyconvertingthelocalpopulation.Allinall,itdoesntexactlylooklikeRefn
isorganizedreligionsbiggestfan.Andyet,unlikeothercinematiccriticismsoffaith,Valhalla
Risingisabletoacknowledge,andevenincorporate,someofthemostfascinating,positive,
andsimultaneouslyimportantaspectsofthereligionsthatitsfocusingon.Allyouneeddois
lookatthemaincharacter,OneEye,andyouhaveyourproof.
OneEyeservesasakindofcinematicsynthesisofOdin,thekingoftheNorseGods,and
JesusChrist.ScholarsofNordicMythology,oranyonewhoseeverpickedupaThorcomic
book,knowthatOdin,inadditiontohavingonlyoneeye,wasabletoseethefuture,andall
devout,oratleasthalfwaycommitted,ChristiansknowthatJesusallowedhimselftodieon
thecrosssoastoforgivemankindfortheirsins.OneEyehastheabilitytoseethefuture
and,intheend,sacrificeshimselfinordertosavetheboy,whorepresentstheinnocent,
unblemishedsideofhumanity.Thesacrificeisarguablythemostimportantconceptinall
Christianity.ItillustratestheabsolutelovethatGod,embodiedhereinthepersonofJesus,
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hasforus.WecannothopetounderstandGodinallhisglory,butwecanunderstandhis
son,amanofabsolutekindnesswhosesufferingweareallofusfartoofamiliarwith.The
sacrificeisGodswayofofferingusashotatredemption.OneEye,amanwhohasknown
nothingbuthateandviolencehiswholelife,isabletofindredemptionintheactofsacrificing
himselfbecause,bygivinguphisownlife,heisabletosavetheboy.
Whilethelargermeaning,andreligioussignificanceof,thesacrificeisnotlostonmany
people,thesesamequalitiesofOneEyesappearanceandabilitytoseethefutureare.You
see,justaslove,kindnessandcharityarethreeofthemostimportantphilosophiesin
Christianity,courage,selfsacrifice,andenduranceinthefaceofadversityweresomeofthe
pillarsuponwhichancientNordicreligionrested.AnyonewhosbeentoScandinaviaknows
thatitisaharsh,unforgiving,incrediblycoldenvironment.Ifyouwantedtosurvivebackin
theday,youhadtobestrongandfearless.AncientNordswereconstantlyremindedof,and
accepted,thereownmortalfrailty.Deathwaseverywhereintheirlives,andtheir
perseveranceinthefaceofitiseverywhereintheirstories.How,youmightask?Well,
unliketheimmortal,allpowerfulGodofIslamicandJudeoChristiantradition,theNorsegods
coulddie.Someofthem,likeOdin,knewexactlyhowandwhentheyweregoingtodie,and
itwastheirabilitytokeepmoving,tocontinuetoworktowardsthegreatergoodinthefull
knowledgeoftheirownfrailty,thatmadethemsoheroic.Itwasinthiswaythatthey,likethe
violentandsexuallyoveractivegodsofGreekmythology,reflectedthemindsetsand
behaviorsoftheancientNords.Keepingallthisinmind,itbecomeseasyforonetoseethe
protagonist,OneEye,asthequintessentialNordichero.Heisamightywarriorwhoendures
painanddeathwithoutquestionorcomplaint.He,likeOdin,knowseverythingthatisgoing
tohappentohim,andiscompletelyunbotheredbyit.
NowIbetsomeofyouarethinking,okayNathan,youvemadeitprettydamnclearthatthis
filmisreligioussatire,buthow,exactly,isitasatireoftraditionalperceptionsofmanhood?
Simple,thefilmhastheonecharacterwhodoesnotbehaveinamasculinemannergoto
heaven.Letmeexplain.Thelastfewsecondsofthemovieshowagrim,deeplyscarredface
wovenintotheclouds.Itshardtosayforcertain,butthefaceinquestionappearstobe
OneEyes,andsincewe,theaudience,sawhimdieliterallyoneminutebeforehand,and
heavenisgenerallythoughttobelocatedsomewhereinthesky,itbecomeseasyforoneto
seethislastsceneasthedirectorswayofsaying,Hey,justincaseyourewondering,hes
inheavennow.Someofyoumightbethinking,okay,soOneEyemadeittoheaven,but
whatdoesthishavetodowithhimactinginanonmasculinemanner?Infact,howandwhen
didhebehaveinanevenremotelynonmasculineway?Afterall,weseehimkillmorepeople
thananybodyelseinthispicture,andisntviolencegenerallyseenassomethinghighly
masculine?Yes,OneEyedoeskilllotsofpeopleinthismovie,andyes,traditionallymen
havesoughttoprovetheirmanhoodbykillingoneanother.InancientScandinavia,you
couldntbeconsideredatruemanunlessyoudfoughtmanywarsduringyourlifetime,and
diedinbattle.DyinginbattlewasactuallytheonlywaythatonemighthopetoenterValhalla,
thehallofthegods.Personally,IthinkthatsthereasonwhyRefnchosetonamethefilm
ValhallaRising.See,thetimeperiodinwhichthemovieisset,theVikingEra,wasnageof
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constantandincreasinglybloodywarfare,andRefnwantstoshowusthatitwasbyhavinga
titlethatsaysmorepeopleweredyinginbattleandgoingtoValhalla.ButImgettingofftopic
here.OneEyebehavesinanonmasculinemannerattheendofthemoviewhenhesimply
allowshimselftobekilled.ToanancientNordicwarrior,surrenderandcapitulationtothe
enemyweretwobehaviorsthatsimplycouldnotbetolerated.Bychoosingtonotfightback,
OneEyeissaying,totheancientNords,atleast,thatheisnotaman,andaccordingto
them,thismeansthathewouldntbeabletogotoheaven.Andyetthelastshotofthemovie
indicatesthathe,thesupposednonmasculinecharacter,didgotoheaven.Infact,he
appearstobetheonlypersoninthisentiremoviethatmadeitthere.WhatRefnistryingto
sayhereisthat,ifyoushowrestraintifyouarewillingtoacceptwhatcomestoyouwith
calm,loveandkindnessyouwillberewarded.Basically,ifyouwanttobetough,youhave
tobeabletotakepunchesaswellasthrowthem.
Sothereyouhaveit!Myfirstfilmanalysis.Iactuallyhavealotmorethoughtsonthis
picture,butIfiguredthispostwaslongenoughalready.Pleaseletmeknowwhatyouthink.
Thankyouallsomuchforstickingwithmeforsolong.
NathanLiu

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R ELA TED

So,WhyIsDriveNicolas
WindingRefn'sMost
PopularMovie?
In"FilmEditorial"

Gozu,orSalvadorDali's
TripThroughShintoHell.
In"FilmAnalysis"

Bronson:SoWhoSays
PrisonCan'tBeAn
EnjoyableExperience?
In"FilmReview"

ThisentrywaspostedinFilmAnalysisandtaggedChristianity,NicolasWindingRefn,
NordicMythology,ReligiousSatirebyn2th4n.Bookmarkthepermalink
[https://liusviews.wordpress.com/2013/12/14/warandgodananalysisofnicolas
windingrefnsvalhallarising/].
13THOUGHTSONWARANDGOD:ANANALYSISOFNICOLASWINDINGREFNSVALHALLARISING.

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Rose
onMarch21,2014at8:04pmsaid:

Thatwassoooooolong!Butthenagainitdidhelpwithmy
homework!

n2th4n
onMarch23,2014at3:12pmsaid:

Icanseewhatyouresayingaboutitbeingtoolongbut,
well,Imaweebitconfusedbyyourstatement,Ithelped
mewithmyhomework.Didyouuseittowriteanessayfor
afilmstudiesclassorsomething?Imnotangryifyoudid,
bytheway.Ifanything,Imflattered.Inastrangeway,its
cooltofindoutthatyourworkisbeingusedbyotherpeople.
Itshowsyouthattheythinkitsprofoundorinteresting.That,
inturn,givesyoutheconfidencetowriteevenmore.Im
not,however,condoningplagiarism.Idontappreciateit
whensomeonestealsanotherpersonswork.

jim
onApril8,2014at8:03amsaid:

Theonlythingthatbothersmeaboutthisfilmiswhywasoneeyed
killedbytheNatives?

anus
onMarch9,2015at2:52pmsaid:

Becausehedesecratedtheburialground.Theonlyperson
thatdidntwastheboy.

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Aidan
onMay4,2014at10:36pmsaid:

Ilikedthisanalysis,andwhileIthinkthereismoretobesaidabout
thefilm(thoughImnotcriticisingyoufornotexploringmorefacets
ofitasthisisalreadyaverylongpost)Ialsohavetodisagreewith
youononepoint.Ithinkthetitle:ValhallaRisingdoesntsignify
thefactthatmoreandmorepeopleweredyinginbattleand
thereforemoreandmorepeoplewereenteringValhallaIbelieveit
signifiesthatthemethodforenteringValhallaisrisinginaspiritual
andmoralwayfromactsofviolenceandhate(beingkilledinbattle)
toactsofloveandsacrifice(OneEyesChristlikedeath).This
perhapsalsosignifiesaculturalshiftfromthecommonPagan
valuesofwarlikebraveryandthirstforcombattothenowprevalent
(andnotablymoreChristian)valuesofselflessnessandlove.
Thisculturalshiftisrepresentedinotherwaystoo.Christians
burningheretics,demonstratingareligiousdominationandtakeover.
ThesynthesisofhelfortheNorseafterlifeandhellasaChristian
domainofpunishment.TheboymovingfromthePaganclanstothe
Christiancrusaderband.
Infact,Ithinktheboyisthekeytotheentirefilm.Hebeginsasone
ofthePagans,butstillinnocentandcompassionatedespite
watchingmenbeateachothertodeathonaregularbasisandliving
aharshandbrutallifeinthehighlands.Hethenbecomespartofthe
bandofChristianssupposedlymorespirituallyadvancedthanthe
Pagansbutstillverymuchpronetoactsofinhumanitykeeping
femaleprisonersassexslaves,burningPagansalive,turningon
oneanotherwhentimesgettough.ThroughallthisOneEyeandthe
boygo,andheremainsinnocent,seeminglyuntouchedbythe
violencethatoccursallaroundhim.
Theboyrepresentsthepathweallshouldfollowthefinalactof
sacrificehewitnessesOneEyeperformisoneofthefew,and
certainlythepurest,actsofloveinthefilm,andweseetheboy
standingalonehavingwitnessedthenativeswalkaway:a
demonstrationofthepowerthatlovecanhaveoverviolenceand
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hate.Iwouldliketobelievethatthechildgrowsuptobethekindof
humanbeingwhorecognisesthetruevalueofpurecompassionand
caretowardsfellowhumanbeingsandreachesastateabove
killingandbrutalityinthenameoforganisedreligion.
Thisisjustmyopinion,ifyoudoreaditthenthankssomuchforthe
greatanalysis!

n2th4n
onMay5,2014at12:56amsaid:

Interestingpoint!Ineverwouldhaveconsideredthefilms
titletobeareferencetotheassentofmankindtoamore
enlightenedstateofbeingbut,nowthatyoumentionit,ican
seeitperfectly.Thewholestory,leadinguptothesacrifice,
isoneofspiritualmaturation.Thismaturationis,ofcourse,
broughtaboutbylove.OneEyeslovefortheboyhas
taughthimtocareaboutsomethingotherthanhimself,and
itisthatlove,moresothanhisownpremonitions,that
enableshimtodosomethingthat,asapaganman,would
traditionallybeseenasunthinkable.Andsoitislove,rather
thanChristianityoranyotherfaith,thatWindingRefn
wishesustofollow.Forwithoutlove,wecannothopeto
outgrowthechildishtendenciesofviolenceandgreedthat,
forsolong,havedividedus.Thankyoufortakingthetime
toreadandrespondtomyanalysis.

roelani(@roelani)
onJune27,2014at3:53amsaid:

Iquiteenjoyedthis(ratherlongwinded)littleanalysisofthefilm.I
watchedityearsagowithmysignificantother,andonlyreallyre
watcheditafterhavinggottensomewhatenamouredofMikkelsens
performanceinotherroles.
Needlesstosay,ourfirstcasual,popcornwieldingwatchthrough
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leftusabitbewildered.Wewereexpectingaction.Insteadwegot
(admittedlyglorious)visualtheater(seere:mylaterobsessionwith
Mikkelsenandveryvisualdirectors,butthatsadifferentmatter
altogether).
IdontknowexactlywhereIfirstheardtheOdinthing.Mightbe
here.Mightbemysubconsciousremindingmeoflongforgotten
mythosarchetypes,butyouranalysisnailedit(althoughImunsure
aboutthewholeoneeyething.WasntthewholepointofOdinand
hisravensthathewasactuallyblind?OrdidImisreadthat?
BecauseOneEyesureaintblind).
Regardless,thefirstIdidaftertherewatchwasgoogle,Ikidyou
not,ValhallaRisinganalysisandyourblogwasthefirsttopopup.
Sokudosforthat,atleast~

ValiValenz
onAugust17,2014at3:29amsaid:

OdinsravenswereHuginnandMuninn,memoryand
thought.Noteyes:)

CLee
onOctober1,2014at7:41amsaid:

Letmestartbystayingthiswasagoodpiece.Youcouldhave
probablygonewithoutthesummary,whichIcouldnthelpbutnotice
pulledfromwikipedia,butitscool.
Thethemesyouanalyze,religionandmasculinity,andtheirrole
withinthefilmarethemesKennethAngerexploredinhis
experimentalfilms.TwoofnoteareScorpioRising(1963)and
LuciferRising(1980),whichRefnhasclearlybeeninfluencedby.In
factRefnhasusedAngersinfilmssinceValhallaRising.The
scorpionimageonthejacketoftheDriver,fromhislaterfilm
Drive(2011),seemstobetakenrightfromScorpioRising.Healso
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playswithotherthemeswhichdealwiththeideaofdominance.
Refnsincarnationalsocarriesthethemeaswell.
TheopenlinesprovesanicesummaryofhowCatholicism
dominatedthelandandbegantospreadlikewildfire.Asmentioned
above,thepagansandCatholicmenarefeaturedheavilyinscenes
aboutdominancefrommakingmenfight,toclaimingforeignlandin
thenameoftheirgodandevenrape.Theonlycharacterstonot
partakeinadominateactaretheBoy,OneEyeandthenatives.
EveryaspectofOneEyeissubmissiveoratleastnotvery
dominating,besideshisstare.TheslavestatusOneEyeholdsat
thebeginningofthefilmseemstohavebeeninplacefordecades.
Thepagansbreaka5yearoathtoholdOneEye,whichiswhatI
wouldassumepushedhisvehicleintomotion.Soeventhepagans
seeminglyhaveafallingoutwiththeirtraditionsandmovingaway
fromtheironcenaturalisticlives.OneEyedemonstratesmore
submissivebehaviorwithhismutenessandhisunorthodoxfighting
style.Inthebeginning,heisleashedandwhennotleashedhe
neverstandstofight,havinghisfirstmovealungeoutofthewayto
choptheleg.Thenativesuseunorthodoxfightingaswell.The
nativesreallyrepresentthelasttruemenofOneEyesworld.What
interestingistheyareneverseenuntiltheend.Theyarealooming
threatevenbeforeweknowoftheirexistencethroughtheuseofthe
soundtrack.Refn,Ifeel,wantsustoidentifythemasnature
coveredindirtandusingstoneandwoodweapons.Theyliveand
killhiddenfromthedominators,justasOneEyetalksbutdoesnt
also.
WhileIdontbelieveRefnissayingCatholicismandmasculinity
droveusfromthegraceofgod,Idothinkheispaintingaclear
pictureothersherehavetouchedon.Youmentionedtheideathat
OneEyedoesnothingtopreventhisowndeathevenwhenhehas
seenitinavision.IwanttobelievethisistiedintothecentralideaI
havebeenblabberingonabout(sorry,Ilovethisstuff).Itwould
seemRefnwantsustothinkdominanceovermansspirituality,
materialworldandfateonlyleadstowardsdoom.TheCatholicsset
outwithagoal,reclaimtheHolyLandinthenameofJesusChrist,
andendupinHelorhell.Withthistheyplantothreethings:convert
thelandtoCatholicism(controlmansspirituality),claimtheriches
andtheland(controlthematerialworld)andbecomeabsolvedofall
theirpastsins,gainingthementranceintoheaven(controlones
ultimatefate).TheyproposethistoOneEyeandheshowsno
interest.Heunderstandsthereisapathhewillwalkandthereare
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pathsheisnevermeanttowalk.OneEyeknowstonotfightnature
totrytodominateitwillleadtoruin.
Didnotexpecttogetthismuchoutofithonestly.Ifitseemslike
Imreadingtoomuchintoit,letmeknow.

jakebelsten
onMay29,2015at9:40pmsaid:

Thankyou,thiswasagreatanalysisandhelpedexplainavery
ambiguousfilm!ThestuffonNordicmythologywasparticularly
interesting

RoseRights
onAugust25,2015at8:44pmsaid:

Ireallylikedyourideas,andcanseethatcompletelyinthemovie.I
foundOneEyehadhonorandcompassion,whereitwasdeserved.
However,myonlyproblemwasthateventhoughtheboywas
spared,hewasleftalonewithnoboat.

doafloyd
onOctober2,2015at5:26pmsaid:

Ithinkyouareonthemoney.MyfirstwatchofValhallaRisingwas
justthat,theNordicbeliefsandChristianbeliefswerebothsavage.
Manwasandstillissavage.Thisissatiretothosebelieversof
religion.Ihaveseenfirsthandinthislifetimehowmanydie
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everydayinitsname.Greatplotrundown.

RavenMountain
onNovember16,2015at2:03amsaid:

Greatreview.Watchedthismovieandwantedtoskipquiteafew
timescouldntwatchMr.Hannibalherebeingamute
Jokesaside,youranalysisisofthismoviemakessenseand
seemstome,onpoint!
IwishIknewofyoursiteduringmyyearsofEnglishstudiesat
varsity,youpossessatalent.
Phil.

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