Mads Mikkelsen is One-Eye, a mute warrior slave, freed from his cage only to take part in fights to the death against warriors from other Norse tribes - for the entertainment of his captors and to provide an event for their gambling.
He escapes the tribe, gaining revenge by slaughtering them, before joining with a band of Christian Vikings, intent Crusading in the Holy Land. Fog and a becalmed sea see them drift off course, landing instead on the shores of the New World.
Of all the Viking films I've seen this one has captured the atmosphere best. It's bleak and occasionally brutal in the extreme. It's accomplished this partly by a lack of musical soundtrack. The fight sequences are played against a silent background, making the sickening sound of the landed blows more shocking. In fact throughout the film the only real background noise is wind.
The scenery is often breathtaking - empty hillsides, vast lakes and open seas. As a visual experience this is much to recommend this film. But it's not the most fast moving film. Minutes tick by with hardly a word being said, and no on-screen action. We watch the becalmed Viking boat drift, seeing the sailors lie waiting for the fog to clear but actually doing nothing.
Itís a very slow paced film, punctuated by short, sharp sequences of excessive violence. It's occasionally brilliant, visually stunning but unfortunately falls short of being truly great. There just isn't really enough content here to maintain your interest even given the beauty of the filming. It captivates you certainly, but leaves you feeling something is missing - a point maybe.
Page updated 11 June, 2010