Monday, February 22, 2010

Marketing Fail as Valhalla Rising Sinks Tragically in the Mud

The following represents my personal opinion ONLY.

Today I saw a new piece of marketing for Nicholas Winding Refn's Valhalla Rising, a film made in Scotland, based out of Film City Glasgow, starring Mads Mikkelsen as a mute warrior. Screened at several major film festivals, and due on DVD in the UK shortly (US release of some sort is pending) this film has been both decried and acclaimed for the lack of dialogue, striking visuals imagry, pacing and music but most consistently for the violence contained in the movie. Those familiar with Mr. Refn know full well that his films are often quite violent and so this is nothing new. However today I saw something that was such a huge and utter letdown, I was appalled.

When I imagine a trailer or a piece of marketing being put together I think perhaps there is a team of well educated intelligent artistic creative folks who might sit around and create a way to best tease, entice, appeal, fascinate capture my fancy, make it well worth the time and expense for me to put down my hard earned money and go to the theatre and see a particular piece of film. Today what I saw was just the opposite. For what I saw was NOT the best of Scottish film, NOT the best of range talent creative work, NOT a fair and full representation of the hours days weeks months and years gone into creating this film. Not a piece that makes me want to go see a film.

Instead I saw a tragically repulsive piece of crap that I felt was insulting to me, as a fan as a reader as a longtime supporter of this film. I felt it was insulting to the filmmakers and crew and cast to the point I had to wonder WHAT was the point of this? Instead of trying to counter negative press, capture and build an audience other than just angry young adult males, I was subjected to a whole host of gore excessive violence murder movie 'plot' spoilers all set most dreadfully to ballet music in a lame tacky manner usually reserved for car commercials or cleaning products in an attempt Provoke? Repulse? Get all the violence out of the way? Was there some subtle message of oho you are SUPPOSED to be revolted by the violence, that is why we showed multiple closes ups of blood splattering, beheading strangling, rape, head splatting open gore (and lets not forget to show close ups of Mads gleefully disemboweling a victim) Yes, that will do the trick!

No, no it doesn't. Do I appreciate that there are many trailers and films out there that contain graphic violence? Why yes, yes I do, I've seen Mr. Refn's work before too thanks. Do I not appreciate all the talent time and effort by the crew going into make the violence look 'real?' Yes yes I do. Will I hear retorts of oh boo hoo poor babies sensitivities were offended. Yes probably.Will they chortle and think but oho we succeeded by getting your attention. Oh yes you did, in the most negative way possible.

That piece of rubbish didn't offend my natural revulsion to so much graphic violence all at once, I think it should offend the film makers and cast and crew for is this IT? Is this what Mads, Mr. Refn, Jamie Sives, Gary Lewis, Ms. Smyth, entire cast and crew want me to think going in and walking out of the film-that it's nothing more than an advertisement for a Scottish Saw film? Do filmmakers seriously want me to disregard all the previous interviews I've faithfully posted because clearly I have been a fool and finally get the point and now think what they really want fans to know is- oh fuck the plot let's just make a film and highlight nothing but the gore, because that's all that sells these days right? Screw art and ground breaking thought provoking film making and clever cinematography -who needs that!!!-just feature the prosthetic decapitated head! woohooo! Forget trying to capture any sense of frustration isolation horror the 'vikings' or whoever felt going into a new land, lets just show that we can splatter blood on a screen stylishly and often! woohoo go team go.
No. go away
. If you are trying to reach an audience you failed today, you sank as low as Jamie's character floundering there in the mud which was sad and tragic. IMO It's well beneath Mads, beneath all of them and you let them down. You let me down. Today I learned that Valhalla Rising just sank and I find that quite sad. You just lost me too.


  1. Wow, Sue. I appreciate your heart-felt rant.

    Sounds like once again, alas, film "execs" have a pretty cynical view of their audience.

    It does get awfully tiresome.

  2. i went out and bought this film when it came out on dvd, what a mistake that was, i have seen some dodgy films in my 47 years on this planet but all i can say is this one ranks number one, i watched in disbelief as 88 minutes of my precious time was wasted on someone's drug fuelled hallucination. i would like compensation for the time i spent watching this abomination, and i feel very sorry for the actors who took part in this film because it can't have done their careers much good at all. also isn't it false advertising putting a scene on the front cover that never actually appears in the movie?