New Movies: The Red Mantle

A saga, by dictionary definition, is not just a long story about families; it is specifically a long story about medieval Icelandic families. The Red Mantle is a saga—very medieval, very Icelandic (it was filmed there), and in its way, very beautiful.

As in all the classic sagas, there is no development of character. Dialogue only occasionally breaks through the long silences, and when it does, it is something less than crackling ("Will you go with me, Sigrie?" "I will go with you, Hagbard"). Violent emotions are registered only by the slightly flared nostril and the widened eye; mothers receive without...

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