It reminds me a bit of one of those Philip Glass pieces in which one note is repeated over and over again until it becomes a shock when it changes. I should mention the tone of the violence here. This isn't "action movie" violence. This is too palpably horrific for that. It isn't intended to provide an adrenalin rush. I'm pretty jaded when it comes to screen violence, but the opening pit fights worked me over but good.
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Say what you will about CGI, I can't imagine the shot of one of One-Eye's opponent's skull opening at the blows it receives done with practical effects, and I'll even admit that I had to look away from it. The bare-handed disembowelment later in the film is equally nasty. Gore hounds might love this, but there's a lot of arty long takes to wade through to get to them. Art films and exploitation films have a long history of overlapping, and this is one of those intersections between them.
This movie depicts the twilight of the old pagan gods in the face of the new Christian god. The epigram at the beginning of the film says that in the beginning, there was man and nature, then mourns the coming of men with crosses who drove the heathen to the fringes of the earth. The title of the movie and the fact that the protagonist is a one-eyed Norseman should not be taken lightly. Although there is no raven imagery in the movie, One-Eye is blessed, it seems, with the gift of second sight. Near the end of the movie, Refn makes a point of filming Mads Mikkelsen with only the sky behind him.
You can do the math. But, then, the movie has a bitter view of religion.
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There are three fleeting images in this movie that suggest the filmmakers have no use for pagans or Christians. In the first, we see a group of pagans--one in Roman garb, the other in Scots--watching blood sports:. And in the third, the viewer can be excused for missing the fact that the remains of the fire are human corpses. Hell, I missed it at first:. Old gods or new, their works are human misery. I don't know if Refn is an atheist or an anti-theist, but I'm willing to bet that he is.
On balance, I think the Christians get the worst of his scorn, which is appropriate, I guess, given that Christianity still holds sway in the world. The essential misogyny of the Abrahamic religions is elided almost as a throwaway in that second shot, while the genocidal history of Christianity is elided--again, almost as a throwaway--in the third.
Refn's disgust with the colonizing nature of Christianity is evident in the scenes near the end when the leader of the Christians vows to create a new Jerusalem in the land where they've landed. The arrows that end up taking him down are almost cathartic. These are often meant ironically, I think.
The most enigmatic of these titles is the last one: "The Sacrifice. The ending of the movie isn't easily explicable, and it carries in it a disquieting ambiguity. I like to think of it as the inhabitants of Eden rejecting the gods of the Old World, but that suggests cultural myths on its own. I'm not sure I like the ending of this movie, but I can't shake it, either. Once you're in tune with the rhythms of this movie, it gets under your skin. Updated: I am reliably informed that the mud, shit, and blood aesthetic I'm talking about at the beginning of this was actually Terry Jones's idea.
Posted by Vulnavia Morbius at PM. Labels: Valhalla Rising. Good review and I love your thoughs on Terry. Though, I think Germans did the dirty middle ages before him. I don't have my timeline down. Hi, Lazarus. You may well be right. I think Kurosawa may have been doing similar things long before Gilliam, too.
Certainly, the rain and mud is a huge part of Seven Samurai. Jabberwocky, though, that's where it becomes a style point, I think. Thanks for commenting. I wrote a paper on film treatments of Arthurian romances for a class I took on Gawain. It's interesting how shiny film depictions of middle ages were for a very long time It gets messy in the post-Vietnam era because everything gets pretty messy.
I always liked Boorman's Excalibur because it mixes the shiny with the filthy ideal vs. You should really be teaching film studies classes, Doc. I'd take a course from you :D xoxo. Hi, Natasha, Y'know, I almost mentioned Excalibur, but thought better of it. As much fun as it would be to teach a film class, I don't have the academic bona fides. Good review. I watched the thing a couple months ago. I saw the word 'Viking' on the blurb and was on it like a duck on a June bug. Had to mull it over a few days, jarring violence and still water.
Pretty useless sailors, though. Kurosawa used inky water for rain Saw this a few weeks ago on Netflix Instant and I must say, it was strangely hypnotic even though it was the slowest and most pretentious film I have seen in ages. I can't say I would watch it a second time but it's definitely worth a try for movie buffs out there. Hi, Reader. Isn't it commonplace to put a white fluid in movie rain so that it photographs? And, yeah, the navigational skills of our sailors are pretty much non-existent. Hi, Castor.
I'm glad I rented this movie rather than buying it.
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I'm not sorry I watched it. I think it's actually pretty good. But I have no desire to see it again soon. Thanks for commenting, guys. Post a Comment. They live in bliss, oblivious to the horrors experienced by the underpaid working class who live in the underground ghettos, in darkness and poverty. What keeps the working class going in spite of their sad and tiresome lives? Simply put? The hope offered by religion. They all gather around and listen to Maria, a religious community leader who preaches about hope and love. They soothing words that come from Maria makes them think that somehow, things will get better.
Will the work force that built Metropolis ever be treated with respect? Or will the powerful keep turning a blind eye to the horrors of working ten hours shifts? Can a happy medium be reached? The message sent out by Metropolis is a strong one, which is probably why it was banned and edited in so many countries. Enter Freder, the son of the rich and powerful leader of Metropolis.
He empathizes with the children from the ghettos when he sees them come up to Metropolis to see the sights, to see how the other half lives. His eyes swell up, he feels for them. He also falls for Maria, the woman who brings the children up to see the city. The experience ends up being a real eye opener for Freder, this is after all, a side of life he had never seen before. When Freder goes and sees the working class, laboring away, nonstop, exhausted, even to the point of putting their lives in danger, he has a change of heart.
Now he understands, when he sees things with his own eyes, when he experiences their pain. Freder literally switches places with the working man.
The workers try to keep up with the frenetic pace of the machine, but cant! When the gargantuan machine breaks down some of the workers are hurt in the process showing us that over worked employees is the perfect ingredient for catastrophe. Mistakes are bound to happen.
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And we have to remember, the ten hour work day was a very real thing back in those days, so we can see why this film addresses this important subject manner. In one sublimely surreal point in the film, they depict the machine that the workers run as an ancient Egyptian god to whom human sacrifices are being made to. Suddenly the machine is this giant God swallowing up human lives! As a side note, it's also important to mention that this was one of the most expensive German films made up to that point, evidenced in the art direction which is something to behold.
Fritz Lang wasn't just telling a story, he was making art; he was making visuals that would stay with us long after the film was over. I mean, this movie has so many visually dazzling moments.
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The Moloch Machine, the creation of Evil Maria a. The surreal moments, like the scenes in which Feder encounters Death and the seven deadly sins, the construction of the city…I mean, the film goes on and on with these indelible visuals. She does polar opposites in her performances, on the one hand she plays the socially conscious Maria, who minds the children and is a leader to the working class. She spreads only hope and love and on the other hand she plays The Machine Man, a robotic version of Maria that manipulates the workers into turning violent and hateful.
Brigitte Helm does such an amazing job portraying both characters; her performance is without a doubt one of the finest points of the film.
Her facial expressions are fantastic!