Thursday, September 30, 2010

VALHALLA RISING (2009) - in the kingdom of the blind, it is the hollow man with one eye that survives as the palaces of man crumble into dust

There are no eyes here in this hollow valley of dying stars. We avoid speech gathered on this beach, sightless unless the eyes reappear as the perpetual star. Of death's twilight kingdom, only the empty man can hope to enter.

In the beginning, there was only man and nature. Religion was but a result of the mythic relationship between earth and it's human denizens, and not an inflexible system imposed in spite of reality. Lo and behold, Christian man came bearing crosses, declaring the Vikings as pagans, as well as any others who refused to accept this "modern" structure. These heathens were driven to the fringes of the earth, the "other" who were declared to be against god.

Valhalla, the Viking equivalent to heaven, awaits for those brave enough in battle. Ironically, One Eye is a great warrior inching forward along this road to a glorious afterlife, while remaining completely unaware of this destiny. He is a slave who lives in a wooden cage, his sole reason for existing is to fight other men to the death. He enters battle because he has no other choice, achieving greatness on the battlefield purely as a means to survival.

His lone brush with humanity comes in the form of a boy who feeds him. One Eye finally gains his freedom by destroying his captors, and takes the boy along on a quest without a map. The boy states that he wishes to go home, but One Eye, a mute, has no such stated goal. An existential anti-hero in it's purest state, he initially exists only to survive, and not for any extrinsic goal or higher moral purpose. However, he does develop a respect for the boy, the lone bastion of humanity glimmering amidst this unforgiving wasteland, and aims to protect him. He is also haunted by blood red visions of his future, and this prods him further along this path to nowhere, a spiritual quest of hate and violence.

A small army of cross bearers invite One Eye and the boy along for a crusade, a reconquering of Jerusalem. They agree, not because they concur with this idealistic cause, but because they seek to escape the remnants of a life in shackles. All they have known are cages imposed by other men, so the freedom of a wide open unknown beckons them. They head out on ship, through a great fog. The Christian crusaders curse their luck, believing their heroic journey has been quickly usurped by a curse manifesting itself through the elements. A soldier blames the boy for this supposed curse, and attempts to attack him in his sleep, but One Eye quickly retaliates, stabbing him and throwing his corpse overboard. Superstitious zealotry, it would seem, is no match against a wayward soul with nothing to lose.

They end up in America, a far cry from Jerusalem. This wild land proves both mesmerizing and brooding. Corpses lay on scaffolding so they can gain access to the heavens, a most barbaric ritual through the eyes of the Christian soldiers. The crusaders trudge onward undeterred, as god no doubt works in mysterious ways. Jerusalem or not, they aim to convert this heathen land, despite being enveloped by failure and certain death. One Eye maintains no such directive from god. Instead, he follows the rumblings of mother earth, her beautiful songs and piercing screams. Curiously, this wordless savage becomes inspired to create a monument of rocks. Meanwhile, the Christian soldiers succumb to death and folly. When all is said and done, and all ideological considerations are but eroded memories, One Eye's pile of stones towers above all, a tangible result of a mind free from pretension and idealism. This unlikely monument remains steady despite the rhythm of the earth, her beauty and murder knowing not of man's purpose, nor the passage of time.

No comments:

Post a Comment