Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Claudes: Norse discover America

Let it be known to all that we don't have cable, so all knowledge of movie comes from 1) me reading the Internet or 2) previews on movies we rent or netflix. The previews from Big Man Japan (not as awesome as a movie about an expanding superhero battling monsters with combovers should have been) we saw the preview for Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America. The preview was a series of shaky action shots interspersed with a long-haired Blond dude chopping down a tree. In the old Norse way.

My husband immediately demanded I netflix it. Ever the submissive wife, I did his bidding.

It was not good. Like really, really not good. Like strangling a chicken and watching a dude take a dump in the woods not good. Also, not making any of that up. I never thought a movie featuring Vikings could be so boring. It was yawningly boring.

The story, if you could call it that, follows 2 Norse warrior men in "Vineland" (the land of wine and natives we now call Vermont) left behind after a battle. These men, Blond and Dark, have some sort of Norse names but we never hear them so they will be Blond and Dark. The movie is broken up into chapters, because we the viewers are too stupid to understand how movies work. One title card is on the screen for a minute and a half and features Blond headbanging--in the old Norse way of course.

Blond, being awesomely viking

Blond and Dark set to making a camp and fixing their situation. They whack at trees for like 10 minutes, through a nauseating NYPD blue herky-jerk "Gritty" filter. It's like they shot this thing with the video option on a digital camera. Like a 2.5 mega pixel one. BAD.

Blond carves a spear (out of a 4 inch diameter tree) to stab fish. We wondered how big the fish were if they needed a spear that beefy. Pretty big, actually. Blond gets a salmon. They roast it over a fire, eating the fatty meat with all the grooming you might expect of the Norse: Open mouth chewing, food falling out of said mouth, face smeared with grease. We're treated to the old Norse for "that fish is killer" and "Don't eat it all, I killed the f*cking fish." Plus the old Norse is dubbed with completely wrong sounding voices, and it's hard to understand. Think the Wah-wah of the adults in every Charlie Brown cartoon but deeper, and with menace. Then record that on a tape player hidden in your pocket. And digitize that recording to replay over the shaky screen.


The other gritty survival activity we are treated to is the writer/director/star takes a wicked crap right on screen for us. They even manged to set the digital camera on a tripod to lovingly record this feat. No shaky cam for the gritty reality of poopin' in the woods.

Now, Blond and Dark have very different personalities. Dark's sister wanted to be a Christian and had a Christan boyfriend that made her a little straw cross necklace. Dark's on the Odin train so he killed the sister's beau. Sister stares at him then jumps off a cliff to her death. Poor, Dark. Such Baggage. also, FORESHADOWING

The Norse duo decide to walk north, back to their people. So they go on a 2-dude pillage streak up the coast of Vermont. They cut down a lot of trees, so enamored were the film makers with axes and trees. Eventually they stumble on a monastery and 2 runaway monks. What are benedictine monks doing in Vermont in 1100? They were slaves of the Norse and now they are on the run. How's that for an answer! Blond hates the monks. So he takes off after the younger monk (called monk #2 in imdb) and Dark takes after slightly fatter, older monk. Blond kills his monk and returns to eat all the eggs and kill a chicken, graphically. Dark can't bring himself to kill his old monk (because of his sister...BACKSTORY). He lets the monk go.


Dark then kills a chicken too, not killing builds an appetite. Burning of the "church" and chopping down the cross complete this chapter about pillaging (Chapter 4).

Off on more of their glorious nature walk through a lovely Vermont, er Vineland, country side. Dark stops at a stream to get a drink and wash his memories of the horrible monk trauma. Who's that staring at Dark? Why, it's old monk! Stupidly following the vikings on their journey. Monk thinks that not killing him=friendship.

Now is when I dozed off for a bit. The description talks about a seduction of some sort. So I'll assume a unicorn seduced a parrot into speaking old Norse in a RenoSmokerVoice. And there was someone that looked Vaguely Native doing some Vaguely Native things. I'm guessing one of them chopped a tree down too.

I awoke to find that Dark and oldMonk became friends! Their star-crossed friendship was cut short by Blond killing the oldMonk, you know, for Odin. Blond and Dark are still friends, of a sort. They sit together and grunt.

Finally, sad, sad Dark wanders into an opening where a Native (complete with feather) shoots him with an arrow. Blond builds him a raft, sets said raft on fire and pushes him out to see, like any good viking. Blond continues to hike north, eventually falling over in the snow and dying.

I'm left with a lingering question (yes, just one): did the vikings have arrows or spears? How did the natives kick their butts so soundly? All other accounts have the vikings as fierce warrior crazy killers, but here they just couldn't hack it? Was it all the trees (because the Norse were used to tundra)? Superior numbers on the Native side?

I encourage you to google Severed Ways and read the reviews. They are more interesting than this movie.

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