Robert Egger, is a director that has made his name with films that are distinct. From The Witch to The Lighthouse if you’ve seen either of these films there is a memorable nature to them. From the atmosphere to the characters all his stories are unique and will stay with you. Does The Northman, a story about a man fuelled by vengeance, live up to the lofty standards of those that came before it?
Yes, yes it does. The Northman is a phenomenal film. It’s a story that Hamlet the celebrated Shakespearean story is actually based upon. The figure of Amleth (Alexander Skarsgard) is the person that Hamlet is based upon. His journey of vengeance against the man who took everything away from him is visceral, brutal and full of fantastical wonder. It is a Viking myth put to screen in every sense of the word.
Some of it doesn’t make sense, you will struggle to understand one or two elements of the film during your first viewing but it is a film that will age wonderfully. There is so much to take away from The Northman. A particular favourite element of mine is the design of the world. Eggers filmed in several locations, Ireland was one of them, and watching Amleth travel the lands to reach his prey is a sight to behold. The colour scheme is also stunning. The climax in particular is bursting with warm reds and oranges. Couple this with the striking poses the characters take and there are several moments that are worthy of being immortalised as a painting. It’s that beautiful.
Your fate is set and you cannot escape it
The characters in The Northman are fascinating. Skarsgard plays Amleth with a terrifying focus. He is a man with a single thought on his mind, vengeance. Skarsgard has also thrown himself physically into this role. He is a monster of a man ready to bring the full brutality of his life down on the man who has wronged him, Fjölnir (Claes Bang).
Fjölnir himself is no slouch. He is smart, cagey and though older than Amleth he is no less an impressive warrior himself. Nicole Kidman and Anya Taylor-Joy are fascinating individuals in the film playing Amleth’s mother and co-conspirator respectively. Kidman’s Gudrún is a warm mother but when you are on her bad side she takes on a whole new dimension that I was impressed by. Joy has become something of a collaborator with Egger and she is ready to take on whatever wildness he has in his film and make the most out of it. Her character Olga has her own journey to fulfil in The Northman and she brings a lot of fury to the role.
I love this film. It is over the top and has brilliant acting as well as stunning visuals. Then there is the score. It is so epic I felt like kneeling before the big screen in awe. It’s a testament to the work of Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough.
The major issue with The Northman is that it will not be for everyone. It is so out there that I think mainstream audiences may be put off by some of the more fantastical elements.
The Northman is easily one of the most interesting films of 2022. It is something different, it brings a new angle to the action blockbuster. It’s something that the genre needs and The Northman supplies it in spades. Check it out if you have the chance, you won’t be disappointed.
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