trailer tuesday

this week's entry is for nicolas winding refn's valhalla rising (2009).

refn has taken another uneven step toward greatness with this one. it follows the story of a one-eyed mute slave being exploited by his pagan captors in vicious bloodsport. he escapes, dealing out harsh revenge upon his former tormentors, and takes up with a band of christians on their way to participate in the crusades. our odin/messiah suffers mightily for his sins and makes others suffer even more mightily for theirs. if you've come looking for 300 (2006) just keep moving. this is a different animal. it is grim beyond measure, ponderous at times. it is like no other viking epic you have ever seen. little dialogue, the characters function almost exclusively as metaphor. it doesn't always work, but i am willing to forgive a misstep or two as it is worth it just to watch refn's reach exceed his grasp. it is beautifully shot with the added bonus of a demanding incongruity between what you sometimes see onscreen and sound design elements. it is, i think, a challenge to the viewer in the best way. you have to put the work in for this one. you are left with a lot of time to consider the nasty, brutish and short circumstances of this life in between bursts of violence that are both astounding and a simple fact of this man's daily life. in you are a fan of the meditative takes on man versus nature and man versus man from the likes of herzog, tarkovsky and malick then you owe it to yourself to see this. if you are interested in where film is going in the near future you should also give it a look. refn is one of the most exciting filmmakers in the last several years. when he makes his masterpiece it is going to be something all of us remember. get in on it now.

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