Don’t You Love It…

Don’t you love when you’ve been waiting to see a movie and you really want it to be good and it turns out to be just as good as you were hoping? I got to watch two movies this past week that were every bit as good as I wanted them to be.

HANNA

I’ve been wanting to see Hanna since it first came out. I’m fairly certain I read Roger Ebert’s review which mentioned the fairy tale aspects of it and I was hooked. But I was never able to make it to the theater and I was unable to watch it until someone happened to donate a copy to the library where I work. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but I was pretty sure I was going to like it. And I did!

Hanna (Saoirse Ronan) has lived near the Arctic Circle almost her entire life. Her father, Erik Heller (played by Eric Bana), has taught Hanna how to fight, how to hunt, how to survive. She speaks at least 5 languages and was taught by her father with nothing but an encyclopedia and a book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Their simple cottage is in a snow covered forest where they live completely alone. Soon Hanna begins to insist to her father that she’s ready. We’re not told exactly what she is ready for but soon Hanna flips a switch to tell Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett) where she is. Her father leaves after they work out her back story and where they will meet up (Wilhem Grimm’s house in Berlin!) and soon armed men come to take her away. Hanna wakes up in a fancy prison cell, freaks everyone out with her ruthless killing skills and then escapes thinking she has killed Marissa. Except she hasn’t. And now Marissa is determined to find Erik and Hanna and get rid of them.

I loved the fairy tale elements in this story. Hanna comes from “the forest” (her description) and Marissa is called a witch. The whole movie has a certain dreaminess to it that contrasts well with the violence that was found in many of the Grimm tales. This isn’t a Disney story where everyone has a happy ending. Also, the music (done by The Chemical Brothers) is really good. If you ever get the chance to watch this one, take it.

THOR

I finally got to see Thor. So happy. I would have felt terribly cheated if I hadn’t been able to see it before The Avengers comes out!

As I’ve mentioned before, I was initially a bit nervous about seeing Thor. I love Norse mythology and I could tell from the previews that Thor the movie was not going to be too similar to Thor the Norse god. But I set that aside and just enjoyed the movie. And I loved it!

When we first meet Thor he is being shown the weapon of the Frost Giants that his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) has captured. Odin tells Thor and his brother Loki that both are the sons of kings but only one can rule Asgard and take Odin’s place. Fast forward a few years and clearly Thor has been chosen to succeed his father. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is now tall, blond and handsome. He also seems to be more than a bit arrogant of his prowess with his trusty giant killing hammer Mjollnir. Loki (Tom Hiddleston) seems to be ok with this turn of events however and Thor and Loki seem to be friends as well as brothers. So anyways, today just happens to be the day Odin is officially naming Thor as his successor. But oh no! Frost Giants break in and try to steal their weapon. They are destroyed by a handy invention of Odin’s fortunately before they can run off with it. Odin is relieved, Thor angry. Thor wants revenge and shows off his hot temper. Did I mention this attempt at theft happened right before Odin could announce Thor as his successor? Thor gets mad at Odin’s perceived softness and sneaks off with his friends to kill some giants on his own (introducing us to the Rainbow Bridge and Heimdall as well). Odin finds out and exiles Thor to Earth where he runs into pretty astro-physicist Jane (Natalie Portman). Hearing that Odin sent Mjollnir to Earth after him, Thor runs off to grab it and try to return it to Asgard. S.H.I.E.L.D got there first though and after a brief introduction to Hawkeye, Thor fails and is interrogated by Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). Meanwhile, Loki has pulled a coup at home while Odin is in some sort of coma. He comes to Earth, tells Thor Odin is dead, and that Thor can never come back. Thor accepts and attempts to live on Earth until his friends come to tell him how awful Loki is. Odin wakes up, Thor defeats Loki, and Thor becomes the god he should be. Loki gets sucked down to the world of the Frost Giants supposedly, but we’ll see him again in The Avengers.

I loved this movie because Chris Hemsworth was fantastic as Thor. And I loved Loki too. Loki’s a trickster god and reading the mythology, you’re always wondering “Loki, what are you doing?!?” And that’s kinda how I felt here too. Loki seemed to be trying to take over Asgard because it would cause problems. And that’s what Loki likes to do. And Thor and Odin are always just like “oh Loki! Enough now. Let’s go drink some mead.” And everything’s forgiven. Which is kinda what happens here. Only Loki chose to leave Asgard, nobody forced him to. So, loved Thor. Thor and Loki were great, can’t wait to see them again, and I really hope we get to see a scene like this again:

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Mythology of the Vikings

I’ve been reading a lot of Norse mythology recently. I’ve always loved myths and the Vikings are one of my favorite people groups. Their history and culture has always fascinated me.

Norse mythology is some crazy stuff. I mean, most myths are pretty crazy but the Norse ones seem to go above and beyond.

First off, the first two creatures in existence were a giant, Ymir, and a cow. The giant survived by drinking milk from the cow and the cow survived by licking ice. The first giants and gods came from Ymir through various ways. Some sprang out of his armpits and others were from his leg (fathered by the other leg!). From these offspring came the giants and the gods.

The giants and the gods hated each other. Except when they were inter-marrying and having babies. Which happened quite frequently.

Odin was one of the original gods and he and his brothers killed Ymir and then used his body to create the earth. Odin was the Allfather and was known for his wisdom. He had one eye and frequently disguised himself to travel through the world of men.

His most well-known son is probably Thor, who would take periodic trips to the realm of the giants and kill as many as possible with his hammer Mjolnir.

Freya was a popular goddess, known for her beauty and rather loose with her, um, favors. Her beautiful necklace Brisingamen was acquired after spending four nights with the four dwarves who made it.

And Loki! Son of a giant, yet Odin’s blood brother. He was a popular companion for the gods due to his cleverness but was always causing trouble. He was always fixing the problems he created though, mainly after some threats from Odin. He ends up turning on the gods at Ragnarok, fully unleashing his bitterness on them for his punishments after some of his more dangerous and unsavory pranks.

Everything ends at Ragnarok. I’m not really sure how that all works. All the gods die except for a handful, who then help create a new era. The gods knew they were going to be destroyed, they just wanted to be as well prepared for it as possible.

A quick note on places: Yggdrasil was the great tree that held all the worlds. There was an eagle at the top and a serpent at the bottom. A squirrel ran between the two relaying their insults to each other. The gods lived in Asgard, the giants in Jotunheim. As humans, we live in Midgard. There are 9 worlds total, each apportioned to a different race.

There’s a lot about Norse mythology I don’t understand. This might be because we don’t really have a complete account of it. Some sources have suggested that Thor was actually a more important god than Odin but somehow what we have now is all about Odin.

If you’re curious to read more about the Vikings and their mythology, I recommend Kevin Crossley-Holland’s adaptations. They are interesting and provide a bit of scholarly background.

If you’re looking for someone a bit younger or if you just want some interesting pictures the D’Aulaire’s version is well worth reading.