There is an intense loneliness and distance in Valhalla Rising, an acutely realised vision of the solitary nature of the soul. Self contained and expressionless, the protagonist invokes an almost primal uniqueness, an exterior of forbidding invincibility neither cowed nor broken by the unrelenting brutality of his existence.
Beautifully composed against the backdrops of mist and mountain, he reflects the very nature of his environment; remote, hard, timeless. The claustrophobic air of the fog that envelopes the boat he later journeys on is once again contained in the sheer humane inscrutability of his being, a sharp counterpoint to the slow disintegration of his new companions.
Wordless, austere of nature and character, his humanity is evinced by the boy, who becomes his mouthpiece, a strange and oddly bonded interpreter of his will, and forger of his path.
Landscape and atmosphere transition into hell, a changeless transformation in the madness that consumes the travelers; intruders, damned, fatally diminished and weak in the face of this silent warrior.
This is a film of violence and beauty, brief punctuations of savagery and blood balanced against the eternal conflict of land and sea, captured beautifully in the unchanging simplicity of of the camera work. This is a film of brutal stillness, of mythological countenance and mood and imagery, of sparsity of sound and colour and tone.
To the utter end this is a narrative about completeness, about a singular realisation of self, the depiction of an unrelenting, unforgiving and uncompromising being, devoid of expression, yet expressive beyond comprehension.
This is a story lacking in noise, its themes and motifs cleverly defined, the extraneous and unnecessary pared away to the raw simplicity at its heart; cruel, ruthless, yet beautiful and human in its final act.