- This movie will not be for everyone. In fact, I think it will be a movie enjoyed by very few. I have not been hearing great things and yet I absolutely LOVED this movie. I think there’s definitely a disconnect between what people think the movie is about and what it’s actually about — there’s buzz about this being a big viking movie, but if you go in expecting Eric Northman-style vikings with battles, beer, and women with horned helmets, you’re going to be horrifically disappointed. This is a viking movie about myth building and the construction of the epic that comes from the slow burn of a man’s destiny unfolding around him.
- The first opera I ever attended was Wagner’s Götterdämmerung, which is approximately five and a half hours long. I loved it so much that I attended it a second time in the same week and I’ve since been told that apparently Wagner is not usually a person’s first opera because it takes a certain disposition to sit through any of Wagner’s operas, let alone Götterdämmerung. But I am of that disposition! And I think that’s the disposition you need to be of in order to enjoy this movie, because it’s completely operatic but operatic in the Wagnerian sense of the word. If you can strip all the pop cultural baggage from something like “Ride of the Valkyries” — no Bugs Bunny and no Apocalypse Now — and listen to that or anything else from Wagner’s Ring Cycle for the epicness that it is, you’ll get a better feeling for the sparse, intense, utterly glorious feeling of this movie. It’s part nightmare, part dream, part epic, all fabulous.
I mean, look at this guy. This is One Eye, our protagonist. He has, in fact, one eye (so it’s not just a clever name).
The entire movie is beautifully filmed while simultaneously being absolutely brutal. Also, check out the trailer because I have no idea if this movie is ever coming out anywhere in wide release.
- Mads Mikkelsen was phenomenal as One Eye, especially considering he did not have a single line of dialogue in the entire movie. The director described One Eye as being more about an energy rather than as a person or a character with development and I think this worked really well in the overall context of this movie being about the mythic and not about propelling a neat and tidy story forward.
- The violence in this movie is pretty gruesome but it’s tempered somewhat by the fact that it occurs in limited doses and gives your gag reflex time to recover. Like, I’m talking visible skull crushing to the point where brains are visible and disembowelment with the spilling of entrails. This is not for everyone, I understand, but luckily I’m not squeamish.
- The sound design for this movie was absolutely sick, and I mean that in both the “kids these days” sense of being awesome and the nausea-inducing sense. Everything sounded crisp and fabulous and the macabre noises from the hand-to-hand combat scenes were devastatingly awful. Ten points to the foley artists, holy crap.
- The score. THE SCORE! The score for this movie was ten shades of phenomenal. TEN. SHADES. Phenomenal doesn’t even convey it because it’s something infinitely more intense than phenomenal. It sounds like what I imagine instrumental versions of Scandinavian death metal might sound like, but in a Viking-era intense droning kind of way. It reminded me of the score for There Will Be Blood (only more rock infused) in how it is constantly building and building and building in intensity with all these other pieces of instrumentation being layered on top of one another and it just takes the movie to this whole other level. This movie would be nothing without the music. You could just listen to it and it would be awesome.
- If I didn’t know better, I’d say Michelle Williams played the young viking boy who follows One Eye around.
- TIFF customer service fail of the week: these two women got kicked out of their seats a couple of rows ahead of us because they were apparently sitting in the seats that were designated for Nicolas Winding Refn, the director, and Mads Mikkelsen, the star. The problem is that they were not designated as such. Usually reserved seats have a “RESERVED” sign taped to them and are coupled with a volunteer camping out at the end of the row to prevent people from sitting there. It was only when a TIFF staffer came over to tell the women they had to move that the volunteer magically appeared and when asked if she had put the RESERVED signs on the seats, she said “yes” despite the fact that they were CLEARLY IN HER HANDS. Then the TIFF staffer basically started yelling at the women after they had started explaining their case (i.e. “You didn’t mark this off, how the hell were we supposed to know?”) and she basically lost her mind on them. Just… wow. This was, of course, at the point where there were no decent seats left so these women got doubly screwed.
- We thought Nicolas Winding Refn was about twenty-two when he came out and the first thing he said was “I look young because I like to wear shorts.” Hahaha. He was pretty hilarious in describing his movie prior to the screening and then again afterwards during the Q&A. I want to watch all the rest of his movies now as a result. A quick reading through his IMDB trivia revealed that he loves Martin Scorsese, so this should work for me.
Mads Mikkelsen was also there and said he was in the film because no one else would have wanted to be in a movie like this.
Categories: 4.5 Stars