Saturday, February 11, 2012
Army of Valhalla (2003)
Look at that cover? Let that title roll over your tongue and feel it: Army of Valhalla! Feels good, yeah? I'm a pro when it comes to understand the deal behind a cover and this is no exception. The original title is actually the easy to remember "Stara basn. Kiedy slonce bylo bogiem", a Polish historical drama from famous (and old) director Jerzy Hoffman. His speciality has always been epics, war movies and depictions of the Polish past. I'm a sucker for these kind of melodramas and I'm happy to tell that Army of Valhalla is one of his better offerings during later years.
The story is quite simple. An evil king, Popiel (Bogdan Stupka) wants to keep the throne and he'll do everything to get rid of opponents. He suppresses the people to that degree that they want him dead. But he's a clever little male-bitch and befriends the Vikings! They help him if they can loot the villages and rape the women, and of course he agrees. But the opposition is growing bigger... and the actions against him even more violent!
No, this is not a movie that breaks any new ground. Instead it's a standard story with a few stand-out ideas. For example, the Paganism is seen like something good and wise (even if director Hoffman throws in a text in the last frame before the credits that tells us that the new kings grand-grand-grand-grandson introduced Christianity in Poland - which feels quite silly to bring up, it's extremely unimportant for this story) and even some real supernatural stuff thrown in for good fun.
But what about that giant Viking on the front waving a huge motherf**king axe at people? Not so much of that, but they Vikings do their job for half an hour or so, until they loose the tiniest little battle EVER - and decides to take suicide while screaming "Odin!". But Vikings, battle and death always means violence and Army of Valhalla is a quite violent and graphic movie. Blood sprays everywhere, some chopped of heads, stabbings and just a lot of people getting killed everywhere. It's hardly
but the realistic atmosphere and smaller settings makes it feel powerful and
brutal. Not bad at all. Hollywood