The similarities between "One Eye" and Odin is many. You can't however set a total equal sign between them as Odin is one of the most complex gods and personalities in Nordic mythology. Odin as a whole is the embodiment of a successful leader (Greedy, generous, wise, mighty and powerful). "One eye" however is the embodiment of a almost supernatural warrior - one aspect of Odin.
Odin liked to travel, also in the realm of man Midgard. When he does he take different shapes/disguises. He is also known to be able to possess a warrior and give him supernatural properties/skills.
The loss of one eye is a clear connection btween "One Eye" and Odin. Odin sacrificed it in order to "see" more clearly, which even "One Eye" does. You can see him foresee threats and even how his opponent is likely to move.
Another link to Odin is the ability to foresee the future through visions (in the movie colored in red). Another thing is the significance of the water in relations to the these visions. In Norse mythology wells and pools of water has a very big an mystical place. Odin drank for example of The well of Mimer (can be interpreted as the well of life/world) for knowledge and sacrificed his eye in the well to see everything in the world. "One eye" sees a vision of him self in the water that helps him escape. He also gets his vision of his own death/self sacrifice when he "baths" in the water after they all have taken some hallucinogen drug on the beach (it is hinted in the end). He also build what can be interpreted as his own "grave" during that drugged session.
Odin was the "death bringer" through battle. Even "One Eye" can be interpreted as the death bringer but there is a very big difference between them in this aspect. Odin is said to be the god of "furious, mad rage". "One Eye" on the other hand is always cold, calm, focused and distant - disconnected even - with no sign of rage what so ever.
One could however argue that the rage/hatred is burning inside him so intensively hot and focused that it burns like cold ice - therefor he just look cold and calm when is the opposite inside.
In the movie they say he is from Hell and the line "the other side of the sea" is a reference to Irish mythology where several supernatural realm is on the other side of the western sea - even the land of the dead. Odin is said to be the lord of the dead even though many gods receives some of the dead in their halls (Freya, Ran, Hel etc). Odin has later when the Norse was Christian connected to the "Dark lord", death or the devil himself. This remarks is therefore even more connections between "One Eye" and Odin.
If you change the name "One Eye" to "Odin" or "Death" you realize that the crew is following "Death" all the way to his "home"... They dies in battle and "One Eye"/Odin/Devil/Death take them with him back to Valhalla/Hell/Realm of the dead.
The last part - named "The sacrifice" - you can interpret in many ways. One way to look at it is that "One Eye" sacrifice himself to save the boy. It can also be interpreted that he was willingly to go to to the god that had called him (Odin) as he had seen in his vision - his woven life thread had come to its end.
But he did so in a way that, according to some, would not have pleased the god as he did not take as many as he could with him. On the other hand Odin had to "die" on the tree Yggdrasil to gain knowledge and people have is known to have been sacrificed without taking a lot of casualties with them.
You can also interpret it as Odin left his host to take the dead crew and the host ("One Eye") home to Valhall - leaving the boy to become a warrior himself one day and make Odin proud.
There is no question that a reference is made toward Odin through One-Eye. There is also another underlying element of irony. The irony is that though Christianity is supposed to be about humility and love it has throughout history been used as a weapon; to conquer, destroy and control in the name of God. in terms of Christian behavior, One-Eye the pagan in the end proves himself more "Christlike" than his "Christian" companions.
There is symbology that is evident, but not to the uneducated on Norse Mythology. I think the main character symbolizes Odin, who was always depicted as One Eyed is a lot of Norse Mythology. Furthermore, the depiction of the bad eye as scarred from battle, matches that of Odin's depictions. Furthermore, I think that he provided contrast to those around him. If all those enslaving him were Christians, it was like Odin was being enslaved. And in this sense maybe Odin represents the power of Nature and Man's natural connection to the world as a living being. So, perhaps they were trying to say that Evangelical Christianity at the time, was enslaving Man's Nature, was robbing him of his natural bond to the earth. Furthermore, in the way the movie played out, I think it was trying to say that Nature is still more powerful than Man. The movie is highly influenced by Scandinavian concepts, imho. Challenging but intriguing. The sense I got, was the same I feel when I hunt Elk/Deer, when I am in Nature and reduced back to my basic human relationship to the natural world. If you can't handle the intellectual challenge to your beliefs, you are like the guy in the movie proclaiming a New Jerusalem in the middle of Labrador. I think the portrayal of the new land is to represent it as if they had washed ashore in the New World, perhaps. It has always been interesting to me to consider that in most of Scandinavia, and at least Norway(where my relatives are from) were converted to Christianity by force. I have always resented this aspect of Christianity, and in that sense I can understand how the American Indians must feel. They didn't ask for modernity. Neither did most people in Northern Europe. They liked how they were before Christianity; it had to be imposed by those seeking to use the religion to solidify their power over others. In that sense, I can see where this movie is going. The question, I have always asked is: 'What was wrong with the religion of my forefathers?' It had worked for them for eternity before Christianity. Christ was a great man that is for sure, but it was the interpretation of other men that twisted his power to their idealistic wishes and uses.
One eye, a slave, traded and put into fights to the death for money, finally gets his freedom and some small revenge.
But where can he go in this brutal world of 1000 AD?
I believe he does not speak because he is a Norseman in Scotland. He sees setting out with the crusade as the first step in getting home. He does not fail to notice the slaughter carried out in the name of god.
I think the crusade trip winds up in the New World, America. For one eye the discovery that the indigenous peoples of the New World are just as brutal as those in the old destroys his faith in humanity. He builds the cairn to try and communicate with them. But they do not understand - there is no communication even here.
For one eye surrendering to the natives is giving up on mankind. The expression of peace he shows on his face the instant before the fatal blow lands on his head shows that he sees death as a release, a final way out of pain.
Perhaps One eye isn't really there? maybe he's the spirit of a lost soul fighting to get somewhere to be relieved of his suffering, because there are only two people who can understand him, the visions he has are probably the instructions he was given to follow to be released, the natives might have been the ones to do it for him, the boy might merely be his translator? the fact that one eye knew that place was hell suggests he's been there... so could he be a restless ghost? he could've died from an arrow to the eye and his hair has been put up in a very strange way perhaps to hide the wound...
The only one that didn't go into the Indian burial ground in the new world was the little boy. That is the reason he survived. Indians, frown upon that disrespect.
I have to question the fact that "sacrifice" would mean One-eye sacrificing himself to save the boy.
We are in a unknown land thousands of miles from home, surrounded by hostile warriors who have just killed off more or less everybody. The future of the boys existence, after One-eye is dead, is uncertain, to say the least. Most probably he too will die. Every adult in the company is gone, and with them every remote possibility to stay alive let alone to build a ship and sail back over the ocean..
Ok, you say, but "sacrifice" is meant in a metaphysical way.
But if so, it's the boy who gives up the only way in which he could ever dream to live and return "home", not One-eye. The boy chooses to let go of the one person who can offer him anything else than certain death. He let's his god-like warrior friend lay down the sword and by doing so, by refusing a salvation by supernatural strength and Godly powers, he saves the world and mankind and thus becomes a Christ/Parsifal; pure and without sin.
"One Eye" symbolizes pure existence, the fact that he has only one eye emphasizes that he is an observer, rather than a doer or a thinker. Nature and its power over man is the main theme here. One eye is purely one with his natural landscape, he lives and dies according to the land, submitting openly to his death when it approaches him. The men around him die undignified deaths in their unnatural and unfounded pursuit of glory and riches.
The ways the men prepare for death are ultimately symbols of who they are. The leader of the Christians bows in prayer, his total faith in a God above but ultimately only his ideal of what that God is, essentially he worships himself. The Christian Crusaders each symbolize themselves through various acts, one man there for pleasure and power rapes another one of the men in the group. The other there out of fear lays himself in the mud and submits to the rape.
The pile of rocks that One Eye balances on top of each other symbolizes his purpose. One Eye is balance and oneness with nature, he never acts unless he must, and he freely submits when he must. He is a symbol of the natural flow of life, a surrenderer to the greater power of nature. For this reason he acts with all of the might of nature when he able to approach a group of crusaders and disarm them with the pure presence that he carries. He is also able to submit openly to death when he walks openly into the group of natives. The fact that One Eye does not talk gives rise to the ultimate power of nature with which he aligns himself. It is beyond words and human rationalizations.
Ultimately One Eye is one of the few to die a dignified death, the two before him die close to dignified deaths, yet they still have to rationalize to themselves why they must die in the wilderness.
One Eye's death is understood on a deeper level that does not require explanation, in a manner reflects the subtle power and mystery of nature. As well as its concern purely with the present moment. A very zen concept.
My question is, what is up with the Eye of Horus (Eye of Ra) in the One Eyes blind eye (the scar pattern in the eye looks like the Egyptian symbol).
Valhalla Rising begins in the northern Highlands of Scotland. One Eye is Viking and comes from Sunderland (the very northeastern corner of Scotland). Sunderland was a major settlement for Norsemen (Vikings) during Europe's medieval period. The boy sleeps in a blanket made of ancient clan plaid. After One Eye dispatches his captors, he drapes his blanket, folded and over his left shoulder as the full plaid is still worn today. The Crusaders were Englishmen/Scottish as noted by their hair, dress and accents. The English were heavily involved with the Crusades- the Norse not so. The leader was gentry as noted by his expensive clothing, and armory. One Eye/Odin then crosses the Styx, (whose waters run red) bringing the Crusaders/ sinners/souls into what they perceive is hell, then sacrifices himself for their spirits and so he may return to his true home in Valhalla. Read Norse god mythology and you'll see how Odin's story bears many similarities to the Christian and Roman mythos. A lot of mix and match goes on in this movie - I really enjoy it.
You people are reading into it too deeply. It's nothing more than a lesson in human psyche. The fact that "One-eye" doesn't speak causes all the other characters in the movie to formulate their own respective opinions and interpretations of him. Some saw him as the one to follow. Others saw him as something evil. But in the end he proved to be nothing more than human, and the entire movie was a journey in misfortune. There are no mataphors or symbolism in this movie. It's just point A to point B. If there's any lesson to be had, it's don't judge people. Plain and simple.
Great reading everyone's interpretation. I believe One-Eye represented respect for nature. He neither sided with the Vikings nor the Crusaders, as both had causes aimed at taking over other people's land. The only people he submitted himself to were the innocent, the boy and the natives.
It was only the Vikings and Crusaders who thought One-Eye was from Hell. A concept only they could conjure since they were filled with hate. They lived by the sword and by their belief in gods, so they thought anyone mightier than they must be from hell.
To me, this film illustrates the futility of using god as a justification for violence and the hopelessness in this barbaric age.
I thought the only reason the bit did not die as he did not desecrate the burial ground as he stayed by the boat when they initially left to explore.
I don't think the film is about Norse Mythology at all. These people are Christians. I'm not a religious person and my knowledge of the details of the bible are poor, but thinking about it after watching, thought it was actually quite obvious.
One-Eye is basically Jesus/the Lord (rolled into one for the purposes of story telling). He enacts judgements on all who attempt to harm him or the boy (his followers/disciples/Christianity itself. Again, all rolled into one character).
The first chapter is an introduction to One-Eye - a mysterious, legendary, misunderstood figure of unknown birth.
One-Eye arriving at the crusader's camp and the journey to the Holy Land is a period of "preaching". The General and his men learn about One-Eye/Jesus and he guides them through a difficult transition from hatred and suspicion to acceptance (or even baptism which could be when One-Eye offers the soldier the fresh water when they arrive at the "Holy Land").
but the other Vikings are actually heathens. They betray One-Eye (the man who announces "there is no God" and the other two who attack One-Eye) and are killed for their opposition to One-Eyes "teaching" The General blasphemes by attempting to claim the Holy Land for himself and is quickly dispatched by arrows seemingly from nowhere.
Towards the end, One-Eye has three followers: The Boy, The Priest and the General's son.
The General's son and the Priest sit/stand on a hill with one-Eye standing over them begging for forgiveness. The General's son is also told by the boy after being told that One-Eye says he will die, "if One-Eye is lying, why are you following him?".
The General's son then comes to forgive his father for bringing him here and goes to be with him. The Priest receives forgiveness for his betrayal to his sons who died in battle.
This whole scene is the Sermon on the Mount.
The end is the most obvious part. During the scene where they drink the "potion", One-Eye builds his own cairn (a Norse burial tradition). This is Jesus carrying his cross ready for his crucifixion.
After the Sermon on the Mount scene, One-Eye and the boy encounter the Natives. The natives are the Romans. One-Eye approaches the "Romans" and sacrifices his own life so that the boy can live. The boy represents true Christianity and a devotion to God. The boy fed and cared for One-Eye when he was imprisoned, spoke to the people they met and spread One-Eye's "word" and therefore earned his life in the "Holy Land".
There is even a resurrection at the end with a shot of One-Eye and a big bright halo surrounding him.
And that, my friends, is the meaning of Valhalla Rising!
One Eye is a blend of Odin and Jesus. the fact that he has only one eye and prophetic dreams is an allusion to Odin and how he sacrificed and eye to gain the ability to (sort-of) see the future. Again, One Eye sacrificed himself to save the innocent child like Jesus sacrificed himself for other peoples' sins.
These are indeed very helpful interpretations of the movie that help me form my own opinions. There have been some exaggerations with Norse culture/belief and Christianity. Although their were crusades in northern Europe to spread the faith, much of the spread of Christian ideals came about through marriage of the nobles in Norway and other Scandinavian countries. Christian wives (sometimes taken, other times in deals with other families of Europe[dowries])brought their religions to their husbands' court. Once exposed enough (or convinced by wives) would they adopt the religion. Many still would practice or observe and respect the older pagan ways. The Icelandic Sagas, specifically Egil's Saga , show a reformed thought of Christianity in which the old Norse beliefs had a place to hold in the history of Norse descendants. A couple of hundred years after the peak of the 'Viking Age' and the influence of Christianity, the stories and ideas of the descendants of the Norse (in Iceland) meant enough to be written down and remembered to these "fully converted" Christians. Although the surface appears simple force conversion, it was not necessarily the case. The culture and religion of the Norse still remained in the sagas that were held dear to the Icelandic people hundreds of years later.
Good movie. I learned something i had not known prior to watching (some norse culture). I was entertained throughout the film. And i thought about the movie for days afterward. This film allowed me to forget about myself for awhile and exist through the characters. In that regard i would say this movie succeeds where a lot of movies have failed.
I think one eye did represent Odin, but taken a step further. He represented all of Norse tradition. The way he interacted with the Christians and such and then he surrendered to the new world or the American natives representing the end of old Norse religion. I think th the boy was the modern nord or celt. He related to one eye but he remained different from him. His adaptability and remaining separate from him allowed him to be spared by the natives. I know it needs tweaking but when you think of it as the different people are more of ideas/religions instead of individuals it makes more scence to me at least.
The Norse tradition was one of fatalism. You can never change your fate. If you are to suffer and die, you should meet it head on. Submitting to the inevitable.
One-eye didnt fight to live. He fought to kill. Anyone fated to fight him was fated to die.
When he was faced with fate to kill or die, he embraced both.
He saw his death.
The child was free from Gods. No old, or new gods to rule him. The natural man had slain them.