SEVERED WAYS: THE NORSE DISCOVERY OF AMERICA Add To My Top 10
Weirdly Intriguing but Disconcerting
Release Date: July 17, 2009
Genre: Historical Drama
Runtime: 109 minutes
Distributor: Magnet Releasing/Magnolia Pictures
Director: Tony Stone
Executive Producer: Amy Hobby and David Raymond
Producer: Tony Stone
Writer: Tony Stone
Address Comments To:Bill Banowski, CEO, Magnolia Pictures
1614 West 5th St.
Austin, TX 78703
Eamon Bowles, President, Magnolia Pictures
43 West 27th St., 7th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 924-6701; Fax: (212) 924-6742
Email: info@ magpictures.com
When a Viking ship from Greenland came to explore new territory, American Indians confront them and slaughter some of them. So, the captain abandoned what he thought was the dead to sail back to Greenland. Two abandoned scouts, Orn and Volnard, survived, however.
After realizing their predicament, they try to look for ways to go north to get to Greenland. Along the way, Indians attack them, and they find two Irish monks left behind by a previous Viking expedition who have set up a church for the Indians.
As heathens, the Vikings hate the Christians. Volnard recalls slaying his sister’s lover, a Christian, who was leading his sister to Christ. Orn kills one of the monks, but Volnard lets the other one live, and the monk reads to him from the Bible. Eventually, Orn kills the monk, and the Vikings have to face the cruelty of North America alone.
SEVERED WAYS is one of the strangest movies ever. The first scene has such shaky pixilated camera work that it almost makes the viewer nauseous. The dialogue is less than minimal. The movie is separated into chapters, like the Vinland Sagas, so it is very episodic. Long periods of the movie involve catching fish, building huts, destroying the monks’ church. These are shot in such a slow way that it is practically real time watching the men cut down a tree. Since they cut down several trees, this takes a long time. Anyone expecting an action adventure movie is going to be disappointed. There is even one graphic scene where Volnard defecates, and the camera follows the entire process in excruciating, disgusting detail. Aside from this low point in the movie, there is something very intriguing by this very arty approach to filmmaking.
The acting is limited to a few lines, some grunts and some slow action. The directing is languid. The camera work is shaky. The music is periodic.
In the story, the Christians are reviled, but it is clear that although Orn has killed one Christian missionary, Volnard is interested in the message of the other Irish monks. Since Orn eventually kills the monk, and the church is destroyed, it seems as if heathenism triumphs, and in fact the opening title is Heathen Productions. But, there is Christian content in SEVERED WAYS. The surviving monk even washes Volnard’s feet, and Volnard gets upset when Orn kills him.
This movie would play best at the Museum of Modern Art. It is not going to be a crowd pleaser, and MOVIEGUIDE® recommends extreme caution.
SEVERED WAYS is a strange movie. The story is very episodic. Lengthy scenes involve catching fish, building huts, and destroying the monks’ church. These scenes are shot so slowly that it is practically real time. The acting is limited to a few lines, some grunts, and slow action. The directing is languid, with shaky camera work. Though the Christian monk is a positive character, he is killed, so it seems like paganism triumphs. SEVERED WAYS would play best at a Museum. It is not going to be a crowd pleaser. MOVIEGUIDE® recommends extreme caution.