This movie takes place around 1000 AD in what is obviously Scotland but is suppose to be a Scandinavian country, probably Norway. Either way the visuals of the bleak mountains in the first parts of the movie are breathtaking. In fact the visuals in this movie are spectacular during every single scene. The movie is very much a journey into the heart of darkness and much like the story by Joesph Conrad (you have probably seen the story adapted as Apocalypse Now) this movie batters you into submission with imagery and symbolism. This film will also not be what you are expecting. If you are like me you are most likely expecting some high paced action-adventure filled with buckets of blood and death. You will get plenty of that but this film is paced fairly slowly and is very cerebral.
The movie centers around a Viking of unknown origin or name that is called One Eye because, well he only has one eye. Anyone with even a thimble of knowledge about Vikings and Norse mythology knows who this person is suppose to represent. Odin perhaps? Anyway following One Eye we have a boy who is called Are. One Eye never utters a single line of dialogue during the entire film. This makes him even more imposing and mysterious as the boy, Are, does all the speaking for him. The other people involved in the story are a pagan Viking that owns One Eye as a slave and uses him as a pit fighter and finally a troop of Christian Vikings that are on their way to the Holy Land to fight to retake Jerusalem and have God absolve them of all their sins. They also mention the amazing amount of plunder and loot they expect to run off with when they sack the cities in the Holy Land. You be the informed viewer and decide what their primary motivation.
The movie also offers up some questions about the nature of religion. Especially the competition between the old 'pagan' religions and Christianity. There is a transformation of values throughout this film that demands you pay close attention to what is happening and why things are happening.
I would also like to point out that the director, Nicolas Winding Refn, of this fine film is releasing what should be an excellent film starring Ryan Gosling next week called “Drive” You should try and see that movie if you can't see this movie or one of his other movies. To be honest you should watch any film by Nicolas Winding Refn based on that fact that his name is amazing and awesome.