3 days to go: Valhalla Rising (April, 5)

I'm getting stronger, I guess. Two Refn's movies in a roll it's a remarkable feature for me. The Danish director is one of my favorites nowadays, and I never take him lightly. However, still rooked on The Neon Demon, I couldn't think about watching anything else but something equally thunderous. 

This way, I got to Valhalla Rising, a 2009 Refn's work, his movie after the punch in the face that is Bronson. I was immediately absorbed by it, the incredible cinematography, the silence, the tiny little details that built  the violence on a world that chronologically is so far away, still so ours til today. It is a study of what make us, the violence so inherent in a humankind that is also capable of sacrifices for others. A contradictory nature that Refn's observes and shows in all his movies. 

Despite a more nature feeling in the images here, Refn doesn't let go of his reds, even if just in flashes of a world immersed in blood. 

One of the biggest charms of this movie for me was, before watching it, and is, now that I had an outstanding experience with the movie, Mads Milkkelsen. Rudd and I make a job of trying to watch all his movies, that are among some of my favorites. The one that called my attention to him was After the Wedding (Efter brylluppet), by Susanne Bier. I remember seating on the theater chair, looking at the first scenes of this film, thinking how it looked like a bunch of cliches was ahead of me, only to have every bit of my expectations broken by a movie that is so delicate in constructing human relations that we forget everything else except the story and its characters. 

In Valhalla Rising, Mads speaks loudly without a single world getting out of his mouth. I've read that he thought the lack of dialogues gave him the illusion of an easy performance. I'm not sure if I believe in this, because, c'mon... Refn + filming in nature + violent fighting scenes  = no way it would be easy peasy. 

This movie is exactly my number - the wandering camera, the careful close-up, the silence. That last I love most, and it never fails to put right inside the story. At the end, a nice a good double in consecutive days of two different but equally stunning and magnificent Refn's take on life  now and ever.

Valhalla Rising. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Cast: Mads Mikkelsen,
Maarten Stevenson, Roy Jacobsen. Writers: Nicolas Winding Refn et al.
Denmark/UK, 2009, Dolby Digital, Color, 93 min.

PS: The trivia around Refn's movies are always interesting, adding a lot about his way of construct a story and characters and images. Here is not different. The bit about the discovery of runes near Delaware is something that interested me for a long time, and this movies meets some of the speculations around it. 

PPS: I'm curious about Refn's Pusher movies, and a bit cautious to reach it. That's my silly fear of disappointment getting on the way again...

1 comment:

  1. Oh, well. I'm completely biased here, because I too hold NWR as one of my favorite directors of this generation - or ever, really. His filmmaking skills are otherworldly. And this one was a precious piece in my opinion as well. As you go through his filmography, you start getting used to some key elements that present themselves masterfully, like the use of colors and silence – and, of course, violence. But this one goes deep in the use of silence, only featuring dialogue in a small portion of its running time – which does such a great service to the story! It is indeed quite powerful. And when all that red comes up... oh yes!
    I agree that Mads Mikkelsen is something that goes beyond words. And that's why I'd like to reiterate that you should take the time to finish watching Hannibal. He's superb in it, it really goes beyond what I can say. That's all.
    Happy that you watched so many of his films in this part II of OMAD. I have plans to watch all his previous films. I tried to start with Fear X, but it felt so different from what he's done lately that I had to stand back and re-evaluate the whole thing. That main atmosphere of violence and purpose is still there, it's just the whole aesthetics is completely different. Still distinct in its own way, though. It might take me some time to go back, but I'll certainly do it. As of now, I'm only missing out on the Pusher trilogy and Bleeder. But you know how it is with NWR's movies, you can't push it, you have to feel the moment is right to experience them.

    [ j ]