Friday, April 3, 2015

When The Raven Flies

The original Icelandic name Hrafninn Flygur. 

Yesterday my husband and I watched a great Scandinavian (Icelandic-Swedish) movie called When The Raven Flies  from 1984. It is a story full of adventure and dark drama, exactly the sort of thing which I like:) The topic of the movie, as of many Nordic myths, is revenge, but it unexpectedly goes somewhat deeper than most stories of this kind.

The film begins with the father reading a book to his children and teaching them that the pen is mightier than the sword and that violence can't be solved with violence. A couple of minutes later, he is killed by the raiding Vikings and his wife and daughter are taken slave. The Viking leader orders his son to be killed as he is too young to survive the sea journey but old enough to have seen too much, however, the man ordered to do it can't bring himself to murder a child and lets him go.

Twenty years later, the boy has grown into a man who spent years of his life to track down and kill the murderers of his father. His quest brings him to Iceland, where the two Viking leaders of the raid, Thord and his foster brother Erik are living in exile since being outlawed due to their rebellion against King Harald.

The main character whose name is never revealed throughout the whole movie and who calls himself simply Guest manages to play the two Viking gangs against each other, using in part the rivalry which exists between Thord and his brother and the pagan superstitions of Thord. However, an unexpected circumstance threatens the success of his mission. The movie has somewhat an open ending leaving it to those who watch to decide whether violence is really an answer to many problems.

It was filmed in Old Norse with main musical theme being the famous A sprengisandi. It's quite interesting to compare this movie with similar Hollywood productions. It doesn't glamourise the period it depicts in the slightest. Life was tough and one had to be hard as nails to survive. Vikings, far from being glamourous warriors lived from the proceeds of plunder and slave trade and would cut each other's throat for the slightest provocation.

As for women, instead of being shown as sexy warrior females in bikinis wielding swords and commanding men around, they stayed home, took care of the children, cooked for men and had really very little to say even when it concerned their own children. Men in the film simply listen to what a woman has to say, ignore it completely and keep doing one thing they apparently love so much, that is slaughtering each other. Another topic the movie touches upon is the female lack of loyalty, which, again, is typical for the Nordic mythology.

The movie has brief nudity and scenes of violence (actually the whole of it is one big scene of violence) which makes it unsuitable for kids, but it's really a great adventure story. Watch it on YouTube with English subs:

When the Raven Flies

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