Culture Magazine

Five Movies Featuring the Ride of the Valkyries

By Superconductor @ppelkonen

Five Movies Featuring the Ride of the Valkyries

The helicopter attack from Apocalypse Now. © 1979 American Zoetrope Studio/Lions Gate Pictures

In the 20th century, the surging strings and triumphant horn calls that open Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries have transcended the operatic stage and the Germanic gods of the Ring Cycle to become standard Hollywood accompaniment to movie scenes featuring Wagnerian amounts of butt-kicking. Let's take a look at movies that use the curtain-raiser as a different kind of dramatic device.

Five Movies Featuring the Ride of the Valkyries

There's those helicopters again.
Image © 1998 Universal Classics/Deutsche Grammophon

The history of "Ride of the Valkyries" in movies goes all the way back to 1915, when D.W. Griffith incorporated the music to represent the Ku Klux Klan at the climax of his racist epic, Birth of a Nation. In the 1940s, Walt Disney planned to use Wagner's music in an update sequence for Fantasia. The sequence was never fully animated, and was mentioned (but not included) in the (eventual) update, Fantasia 2000.
Anyway, here's five:
Apocalypse Now (American Zoetrope, 1979)
Everyone knows this scene--even if they've never seen the movie or heard of a Wagner opera. The Ride forced its way into American pop culture when opera-loving director Francis Ford Coppola used the Ride as the soundtrack for Colonel Kilgore's flight of napalm-dropping helicopters in his Vietnam epic. The fiery images have become so associated with Wagner's music that Deutsche Grammophon featured Huey choppers on the cover of a 1998 Wagner compilation. Ooh. Classy.
Apocalypse restored Wagner's music to acceptability for the silver screen, and inspired a few other films, some of them pretty unexpected.
Super Troopers (Fox Searchlight, 2001)
This gross-out frat-boy comedy from the Broken Lizard troupe features a group of disorderly Vermont state police officers who spend their days playing pranks on motorists and generally getting into shenanigans.
There's not much of a plot in this funny, episodic film, but at the climax, our boys wind up in an all-out battle royale with the local cops. The Ride features a police cruiser adorned with an inflatable sex doll, and is quickly replaced on the soundtrack by the country-punk track "Big Bear" by the Brooklyn-based group  Steak. (No, I've never heard of them either.)
Watchmen (DC Comics/Legendary Pictures 2002)
This is pretty much a direct Vietnam/Apocalypse Now reference. Zack Snyder's adaptation of the award-winning Alan Moore graphic novel is set in 1985, in an America where superheroes have been outlawed, Nixon is still President, and the world stands on the brink of nuclear Armageddon.
Watchmen uses the Ride briefly, as the accompaniment to the American victory in Viet Nam, courtesy of the nuclear-powered time-travelling "superhero" Doctor Manhattan. Along with his comrade The Comedian (a Captain America type armed with a flame-thrower), the Doctor terrifies the Viet Cong by rising to twenty feet tall and turning the enemy to subatomic glop with his mind. So much for napalm.
Jackass 3D (MTV Films, 2010)
Really nothing to say about this. You're just going to have to click 'n' watch.
You know you want it. Footage © 2010 MTV Films
Rango (Nickelodeon Movies/Blind Wink Pictures, 2011)
The newest movie on the list is a surreal CGI animated work by Gore Verbinski that came out a couple of weeks ago. Starring Johnny Depp, Rango draws equal inspiration from Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, the desert mysticism of Carlos Castenada, and Hunter S. Thompson's acid-drenched Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Depp plays a chameleon who leaves his sheltered life in a fish-tank and winds up as Sheriff of a tiny desert town ("Dirt") populated by anthropomorphic animals. And it's a Western. The Ride appears in a spectacular sequence where the animal posse is attacked by an army of desert critters, all armed to the teeth and riding bats into aerial combat. It's good stuff.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Featuring Reds in Latest Abstract Painting

    Featuring Reds Latest Abstract Painting

    I've been working on a series of slim canvases, featuring reds and oranges in all of these new abstract paintings. I'm starting with a central image running up... Read more

    By  Abstractartbylt
    ART & DESIGN, CULTURE
  • Five Friday Facts: Food Inc.

    Five Friday Facts: Food Inc.

    Last January, at the beginning of our current streak of continuous days with a post, I reviewed Food, Inc. As part of the movement that has sprung from the film... Read more

    By  2ndgreenrevolution
    ECO-LIVING, ENVIRONMENT
  • Famous Objects From Classic Movies

    Famous Objects From Classic Movies

    An online game for movie lovers. Try to guess which classic movie a particular object is from.The Read more

    By  Gerard
    HUMOR, RANDOM
  • “Nature by Number” and Other Movies

    “Nature Number” Other Movies

    Here are some beautiful animated movies by the Spanish artist Cristóbal Vila. The first one, Nature by Number, is inspired by numbers, geometry and nature .... Read more

    By  Luphil
    BODY, MIND, SPIRIT, SPIRITUALITY
  • 2010 Year in Review: Movies

    2010 Year Review: Movies

    I realize that February is a little late for a year in review, but considering we’re in the height of award season I feel the subject is still relevant. Besides... Read more

    By  Migrating Coconuts
    ENTERTAINMENT
  • Okay, I Watch Too Many Movies...

    Okay, Watch Many Movies...

    I'll just be upfront here: I watched every one of these movies throughout the Christmas holiday season. In order to put over 15 hours of my life to good use, I... Read more

    By  Thismomloves
    MOVIES
  • Number Five.

    Number Five.

    Oh, Disneyland. What a happy, happy place. It was somewhat pathetic that this was even on our pre-baby bucket list, but we both thought it was important to visi... Read more

    By  Agadd
    DIARIES

Paperblog Hot Topics