Sunday, May 01, 2016
( 5:46 PM ) posted by Setsuled
A mute, unbeatable killer is held captive, wandering through the wilderness with a group of men who force him to fight for sport. The captive is a Norseman and he has one eye, the movie is 2011's Valhalla Rising so, if you're like me, you'll assume this man is Odin. But this is never said in the film--it's a movie of few words, almost more like a series of beautiful still images. The carefully posed nature of every shot interferes a little with the effect of the story but for the most part it's an entrancing rumination.
Mads Mikkelsen plays One-Eye who, after he escapes from his captors, falls in with a small group of Christian crusaders on their way to the Holy Land. One-Eye never speaks a word and seems mainly in it for the pleasure of killing. A little boy (Maaren Stevenson), who previously belonged to One-Eye's captors, seems to interpret One-Eye's silences for the Christians.
This works as an interesting metaphor and commentary for religion. The Boy is like a priest to One-Eye's god--the Boy says things people take as One-Eye's word partly because the Boy knows a little more about One-Eye than the others and can infer some things and partly because One-Eye's silence would be too infuriating to accept. As with God, in the absence of real knowledge of his will, a representative's word on the subject is needed to fill the void.
The Christians tell the boy stories of Christ which eerily match with One-Eye's story, too. Most of the movie, though, is silence as carefully composed shots with shadows arranged with perfect calculation play on faces and standing figures.
When they arrive somewhere that is definitely not Jerusalem, the Christian in charge (Ewan Stewart), seems to start channelling Aguirre, the Wrath of God. The Christians look mad next to the cool, quiet reality of One-Eye.