Monday, December 7, 2015

Gåten Ragnarok

Mild Spoilers.

It started out a lazy night in like any other. The bros and I scrolled through our Netflix options briefly before settling on a PG-13 adventure film titled Ragnarok. Not a Marvel movie that doesn't yet exist, but definitely relating to Norse mythology. It didn't take us long to discover though, a very interesting thing: the film was Norwegian -- and therefore, in Norwegian. So we did the most obvious thing to do at that point; we turned off the subtitles and watched the whole movie like that, relying only on our intuition and guesswork to fill in the the plot.

I thought it would be an amusing experience, but it wound up being way more interesting than I imagined.

It was a family adventure, borrowing plays from Steven Spielberg, Jurassic Park, and Indiana Jones, about a historian/archaeologist of some kind () who along with his friend and coworker () discovers the location where a Norse myth occurred. He, his two children, his friend, and the friend's sister (best guess) () travel to the small, hidden island in search of artifacts... but what they find is even more... alive.

First of all, this was no ground-breaking adventure story. It had a classic and fairly predictable plot. However, it was all done very well. As far as I could tell, the plot was thought through very neatly and concisely, and while they borrowed the fun and obvious elements from Spielberg and Indy, they also used the harder to pinpoint, but just as important elements that make those films great. Ragnarok has great adventure pacing that only feels slow very occasionally and was definitely not lazily thrown together. It features a unique location and several very memorable and fun action set pieces that keep the movie fresh and thrilling.

Translated literally, "Gåten Ragnarok" is "The Riddle Ragnarok." The American title is simply "Ragnarok," but I think we can do better... The Mystery of Ragnarok. The Legend of Ragnarok. The Mystery of the Legend of Ragnarok!

Our understanding of all the speech-related element came from listening to inflection, observing body language, and an understanding of what is usually said in particular cliched situations. This created some very cool side effects though, because obviously some things were just too detailed and arbitrary to know. Like, we knew that the kids' mom had died, but whenever people had a conversation about her, we didn't know exactly what they were saying, just that it was about her, and the speaker's emotion based on inflection.

I found it very interesting to discover that not knowing the details of a situation didn't at all hinder my emotional connection with the characters and their situations. In fact, I wonder if it was higher than if I had totally understood them. Usually sub-par scripts are most often what breaks the fourth wall for me, and in this movie's case, I honestly have no idea of the script's quality, and cannot be influenced. Here, instead, all I got was the emotion of the actor, which was realistic all-around. This was by no means a high-emotion movie, but every little bit was involving and immersing way past what I would normally expect out of a small adventure tale like this. So, in a way, this was the most realistic script ever in my eyes. Super strange, but accurate.

Yes, it is a family adventure. See, there are KIDS being terrorized by that monster!

Gåten Ragnarok had it's share of pitfalls and corny moments, but was overall an exciting, fun, and thoroughly entertaining adventure tale. Though I think the novelty of not understanding the language enhanced my enjoyment of it in an incredibly unique way, I thoroughly expect to enjoy it again when I re-watch it -- using the subtitles this time to check my work.

Out of curiosity, have any of you ever watched a foreign language film without the subtitles?


  1. So, did you learn any Norwegian? Watching it without subtitles sounds like a fun experience, and I love North mythology. :)

    1. I did a little, actually! But I've completely forgotten it all now. :P It was even more fun than I though it'd be! And I'm sure it'd be a fun movie with titles too.

  2. How interesting! Well, English movies are actually foreign language films for me and I watch them with subtitles all the time now. But when I was a teen and was doing that for the first time, I had to deduce a lot from inflection and body language as well.
    Funny enough, I watched some English/American movies in German, because in Germany they dub everything and when you're bored in a German hotel you just watch whatever's on tv... That's also quite a funny experience, I can tell you, especially if it's a Jane Austen movie in German!

    1. Thanks! It really changes the experience, doesn't it? And makes you think. It's actually the kind of thing I'd like to do again, or even regularly -- just because it's so neat. And doing this opened me up more to the idea of foreign language films in general too. Haha, that's cool! I bet that is funny, to hear a Jane Austen in German!