- Directed by Robert Eggers
- March 28, 2022 (Rigoletto Cinema) / April 22, 2022 (US)
A Viking prince sets out to avenge his father’s death at the hands of his uncle.
Robert Eggers is a unique director with a vision unlike any other out there. From the atmosphere to the storytelling to the story itself in each project he presents something that is unique that holds you from start to finish. While his work may not be for everybody, everybody should give his work a look. The Northman is no different.
For a historical epic this touches on some weighty themes. The Northman is a film that touches on fate and destiny and confronting the past. It hints that right and wrong are not so easily defined and even how our own perceptions of events can be quite misleading. There are themes of love and loss and how even those you love can betray you. This is perhaps one of the deeper violent films I have ever encountered.
Our titular character of Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) lives in a very violent world and Eggers does not shy away from the violence at all. Violence isn’t shown because they can but because it is part of the story. It establishes not only the characters but the type of social rules they must follow.
And Amleth’s story becomes intertwined with that of a Slavic slave woman named Olga of the Birch Forest (Anya Taylor-Joy) whom he falls in love which complicates matters. She sees a man of power but eventually falls for him though I find the romance a little difficult to follow. I’m just not sure where it began for her. Much like James Bond, it appears to come down mostly to the power of his penis. When Olga actually displays feelings for Amleth it was natural but there was no real crafting between Point A and Point B.
There are twists and turns in the story and weird visions are brought into this world where the everyday and the supernatural are one in the same. Whether or not this was hallucination or genuine magic is left a bit up to the viewer rather than decided for you. If it all really happened it brings into question exactly who was pushing Amleth towards his final confrontation.
One thing that stands out to me is that all of the central characters are strong characters. No one is crafted as weaker than another in order to make one appear strong. They’re all driven and well-rounded and focused. From Fjölnir (Claes Bang), the target of Amleth’s rage, to his mother Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) these are all complex characters who are not meek and cowering.
Things are set in motion from the earliest events of the film. One of the themes of this is that you cannot escape your destiny and Amleth’s destiny is set from almost the opening scene. I took the ceremony overseen by Aurvandill’s (Ethan Hawke) jester Heimir (Willem Dafoe) as Amleth’s father making sure any enemies that struck him down would die in return. Kinda messed up to mess with your kid’s brain just to get one last act of vengeance from beyond the grave.
This is a visually stunning film. The visuals complement the narrative. It’s bleak and rough much like the story. The cinematography is beautiful and haunting. This is an amazing film to watch just for how it looks.
The Northman is an amazing film but one of those amazing films that may not be for everyone. Having said that I think everyone should give it a look as they will leave satisfied and amazed and perhaps stunned but in a good way much as I did.