Denmark-ish Double Feature.

DO YOU LIKE NORDIC MYTHOLOGY?

DO YOU NOT MIND MANY KINDS OF VIOLENCE?

DO YOU ALSO NOT MIND WEIRD MOVIES THAT HAVE THIS VIOLENCE BUT ALSO MOMENTS OF HUMOR?

THEN I HAVE 2 FILMS FOR YOU!!!!

The films:

  1. Valhalla Rising
  2. Beowulf & Grendel

About the films:

Valhalla Rising is 2009 film by Nicolas Winding Refn about a slave named One Eye who is taken along on a trip to the New World by a group of Christians. It begins in Scandanavia, it does not have the immediate connection to mythology Beowulf & Grendel does (borrowing directly from stories) but it does reference Valhalla in its title and One-Eye is said to posses supernatural strength.

It is a Winding Refn film so it gets pretty graphic, gory, and it has all kinds of violence. But if you are okay with that please enter into this nightmare world of the worst in humans (a theme Winding Refn seems to always explore!), bizarre imagery (yet not very abstract), and there is this one sequence near the start with this amazing red colouring (colouring is another Winding Refn staple). It also has an unwinding pace of an acid-Western like Dead Man, if you are into that.

Beowulf & Grendel is a 2005 film by Sturla Gunnarsson. A story of intergenerational repercussion that starts with a troll being killed by a Danish king. Years later another troll hunts the village and the hero Beowulf, along with his band (not literally a band, though I think it would be way rad is Beowulf and his hero friends were in a metal band), is called upon to fix the problem. Many other things happen.

I wish I could point out auteur things but this is the only Gunnarsson film I’ve seen! However, I did really, really enjoy it. I love folklore and traditional tales and I love when they make it to film in a way I actually like. I’m not into things like Clash of the Titans, or Troy, or Alexander (omg, let’s talk about Alexander, please) but this one felt smaller and more like an oral tale, and loser, and not big and bloated. Kinda like the old version of Jason and the Argonauts.

Full warning that this is gory, both films are can get brutal, there is violence and sexual content and non-consensual in both. The sexual content is very minimal but it’s still there.

Why they are a good double feature:

I’ve already discussed some of the similarities above. But, there is more to these films than violence.

Both are set in Scandanavia, centuries ago.

I also found it interesting that both deal with the introduction of Christianity into the region. Beowulf & Grendel does go into this clash more in-depth but the presence of Christianity is in both films and important to both films. Belief is a theme both explore.

The dialogue in both- this is something that drew me to the films- whereas many films about gods, mythology, and the past use “old English” (totes what mythological figures would have used) neither of these films bother. There is not a single “thou” in sight, it is grounding to the films and relieving to me as it always sounds off. Why use this old English or super formal language to show age if it doesn’t actually apply to the concept? It ends up sounding campy to me and there’s no room for camp in these films (this is not entirely true). But for real, these films use what I guess I’d call “current” English, lots of swearing too, it’s nice, it adds character. I have an easier time accepting that Beowulf and his bros would say “fuck off” than formal speech.

So if you want an afternoon, or morning, or night, of Scandanavian times with strange imagery and actually really funny moments when it comes to Beowulf, treat yourself to these two movies.

P.S: Gerard Butler plays Beowulf.

Love,

Sara.

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