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Ronal the Barbarian ("Ronal Barbaren")

Quebec Premiere
  • Denmark
  • 2011
  • 115 mins
  • DCP
  • Danish
  • English (subtitles)

There once was a terrible demon named Zaal who terrorized the land until the day Crane, a redoubtable warrior, brutally subjugated him. Not without bloody wounds, though, that took his life after seven days. All who drank the blood of Crane gradually transformed into mighty fighters, henceforth known as the Barbarians, the most powerful tribe in Metalonia. Several generations later, Crane’s blood still courses through the veins of these tribesmen — except perhaps our hero Ronal’s. His scrawny physique and the brains-over-brawn approach it demands are the laughingstock of a village more sympathetic to oiled muscles, feats of strength and the conquest of glory. But when the denizens of Ronal’s village are attacked and captured while he’s on lookout duty, he has no choice but to summon up his courage and save his comrades from Volcazar and his army. Luckily, Ronal won’t be alone. At his side are Alibert, a bard with a thirst for adventure, Zandra, a fierce warrior, and Elric, their guide of questionable competence in matters of elvish lore.

As silly as its premise sounds, RONAL THE BARBARIAN is far, far away from any Disney fairy tale. With their thrid film, the filmmaking trio of Thorbjørn Christoffersen, Kresten Vestbjerg Andersen and Philippe Einstein Lipski strike hard with this animated parody of medieval films. Respectfully mocking the genre, the three creators have a ball with cliches and stereotypes, and make the most of the bumbling, confrontation-averse Ronal and the camraderie of his colourfully oddball band of adventurers. And they haven’t overlooked how heavy metal music has long drawn on the world of high fantasy. With an opening scene comparable to a KISS concert, devil signs raised high after every massacre and a finale showcasing a wink at Queen with the song “Barbarian Rhapsody”, the nods to metal are nice and numerous. With the foulest of language, well-delpoyed irony and countless snarky gags in wonderfully bad taste, RONAL THE BARBARIAN is surely not fun for the whole family, though a (somewhat) more mature audience will appreciate this fresh and funny Danish parody of fantasy standards like CONAN THE BARBARIAN and LORD OF THE RINGS.

— Eric S. Boisclair