Few films that I’ve ever seen manage to achieve the balance of savage brutality and gorgeous imagery that Valhalla Rising accomplishes. It’s simultaneously hard to look at and impossible to look away from. Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson, Drive, The Neon Demon) deserves recognition for walking such a tightrope so fearlessly.
I won’t go into the plot, because I think a blind viewing is better for a film like this. I will say that it’s divided into chapters with titles like “Wrath,” “The Holy Land,” “The Sacrifice” and other chipper names of that sort. It is stark, bleak, violent and evokes senses of wonder, confusion, disgust, and extreme happiness to NOT live in the time of Vikings and The Crusades.
Packing some heavy religious themes and messages about war, destiny and perseverance, this is a film that will make you think and one whose imagery will leave its mark on your mind long after the credits.
Or it’ll smash your head in with a rock. Metaphorically.