Picking at the bloated carcass of geek culture...occasionally!!!

Utterly filthy

In Movies on September 16, 2009 at 8:08 pm

I’ve written about my interest in fantasy anachronisms before, so the news of this new movie Vahalla Rising: Le Guerrier silencieux has got me suddenly excited.  What is it about?  Not sure, exactly, but it might have something to do with Vikings, the New World, and axe-fighting, and a one-eyed Mads Mikkelsen.  This movie has me interested in a way that something like Pathfinder never could.  Why?

Well, for one, it looks utterly filthy.  The characters seem encrusted with dirt, soil, mud, earth, sludge, and dirt again.  I enjoy when movies portray older times with commonality of filth before the modern era.  They guys have never known shampoo, deodorant, or toilet paper.  They probably smell like week-old corpses rolled in fish entrails and Garbage Pail Kids cards.  This goes a big way for helping me get into a setting.  It’s why Deadwood will always be one of my favorite pieces of entertainment.  I don’t want my settings “lived in” as much as “shit in.”

Mads contemplating the fact that, while being an international star,  he is best known for smacking Daniel Craig's balls with a knotted rope.

Mads contemplating the fact that, while being an international star, he is best known for smacking Daniel Craig's balls with a knotted rope.

Secondly, the movie doesn’t seem much in the way of being stylish.  Do these guys have cool armor or flashy, over-sized weapons?  Maybe, but it more looks like a bunch of guy in worn out leather and wool with worn, beat-up iron axes.  No elaborate sets that I can see; just some rocky hills and maybe a boat or two.  Maybe the medieval world isn’t so much a grand wonderland but a lethally banal, soul-crushing place.

Thirdly, the fighting looks fast, brutal, and bone-crushingly painful.  Combat isn’t a dance, but a deadly exercise in knocking the other guy down then finishing them quickly.  Combat isn’t a spectacle, but a means to survive in a tough time to be alive.  I like action as much as the next guy, but I sometimes like when combat has high stakes and diminished bullshit.

Fourthly, this whole column is intended for Michel so she can hear about this Mads Mikkelsen movie.  Her love for him is known, and I wanted to be the one to bring it to her attention.  I hope I was successful.

  1. They appear to be some Nordy or Scottish crusaders. I have high hopes. After a mostly lackluster summer a movie that delivers on this promise would be appreciated.

    I like the idea of Mads Mikelsen as a tough action anti-hero. In Denmark he plays some sensitive middle aged gay dudes. And drug pushers. So, you know, the perfect man as far as my wife is concerned (?) I’ve never been able to understand her obsession with him. I like him, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I don’t even recognize him. All I’m saying is, if I was my wife I’d have a crush on Peter Sellers. Or Michael Caine. Those dudes were totally hot.

    • No way, if I was your wife, well… for one, they’re be some changes around here. For instance, where’s my god damn dinner? But lets set that aside for the moment, if I was your wife… I forget my point.

      Anyway, yeah, it looks like they set out for Jerusalem and never make it. Good find, Scott.

  2. Shut it, Noah. You are not meant to understand my great and mysterious love for Mad Mikkelson.

    Thank you, Scott. I hadn’t heard about this yet. Clearly I’m letting the side down.

    I squealed like an 8th grade girl while watching the trailer.

  3. viking sense tingling.

    I’ll need to check this out. Not familiar with this guy’s stuff, but i thought he did make a splendid bond villain.

    Michel, hope this viking porn more than makes up for the loss of the skarsgard family appearing in the Thor movie .

  4. Hey! Did anyone see 9 yet?


  5. That reminds me.

    Scott, there’s a version of Beowulf with SaraH Polley that you might like.


  6. man…pics from that grendel movie make me more sad that stellan skarsgard isn’t playing odin, I would have liked to see his bearded mug all giant and ghosty like in the kirby books, giving thor some crappy guilt trip for selling out asgard, and possibly banishing. Odin, definitely in the running for one of the worst dads in marvel comics.

  7. I remember when that Beowulf movie came out, or rather I remember the trailer and then it not coming out. Did it not get a theatrical release? Why didn’t we see it? Have the rest of you all seen it and it sucked? The trailer was very promising.

    • It… kinda… sucked, but it was kinda alright too. I enjoyed it. Of course, I saw it as a free rental, but you know. It was set up and looked along the same lines as Vahalla Rising. I really liked their approach to grendel.

  8. “He must be the king.”
    “How can you tell?”
    “Because he’s the only one not covered in shit”

    I actually have a beef with the whole mud=reality cliche. It’s sort of a cheap way to make things “realistic” in a not very realistic way. People don’t like being dirty now, and I assume they didn’t like it anymore in 1000CE or 20,000BCE. The only people who commonly walk around covered in filth are pig farmers, coal miners, and the miserably poor or insane. In the past, b/c textiles were very labor-intensive products to create and important indicators of status and wealth, it was even MORE important to keep that shit clean. I especially hate that cave-men are always represented with F’ed up dreadlocks and dirt all over their faces. Like washing your face is some high tech shit they just couldn’t figure out. Just because they didn’t know how to smelt metal or use the internet doesn’t make them retarded. And that’s on like Discovery Channel specials not just movies. They should look like Eskimos or Laplanders, not escaped mental patients with scat fetishes. One of the things I liked about the LotR trilogy was that the people of Middle Earth had, y’know, textiles. Like Boromir wore a printed shirt with buttons. There wasn’t much of that Xena BS where everyone wears leather jackets and pants made out of rope.

    There are times when it’s justified to have filth, like anything involving sea travel before like 1875, or WW1 trench warfare, but it should be a conscious choice on the part of the filmmaker, not just a cliche.

  9. What about Crustys?

  10. what happend in 1876 that cleaned up sea travel?

  11. Crust is a conscious opposition to American, middle-class, bourgeoisie values of capitalism, oppression, and soap– Or something, IDK. I do know it’s very on-purpose; those kids spend hours sewing patches on their carhartts and getting their dreads just right.

    Steam engines. That’s when we started getting Titanics and what not. Before that ships were powered by sails, very sweaty dudes, and whiskey. (Though there was a period of overlap, where we had sailing ships, steamships, and even ships with both engines and sails.)

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