Arts & Entertainment

Robert Eggers’ Viking Revenge Tale ‘The Northman’

Alexander Skarsgård

Alexander Skarsgård in The Northman

A Viking tale of revenge that is packed with lore, mystical visions, brutal violence, and a touch of romance to balance it all out. The latest film by director Robert Eggers (The Witch and The Lighthouse) sees him exploring his most expansive tale to date.

The Northman follows Prince Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård), a young Viking prince after he witnesses the brutal murder of his father King Aurvandill War-Raven (Ethan Hawke). The culprit behind the murder of the king is Amleth’s own uncle, Fjölnir (Claes Bang), whom Amleth’s vows to extract revenge against as he escapes the same fate as his father.

Many years later with his thirst for revenge growing ever stronger and his warrior skills honed Amleth has become the “bear-wolf”. Upon hearing of his uncle’s new home the bear-wolf sets about stalking his prey to extract his vengeance. 

Arriving on a remote Nordic island disguised as a slave Amleth begins plotting Fjölnir’s demise from within the ranks of this new kingdom. Aiding in this plot by his side is fellow slave, and sorceresses, Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy).

Skarsgård is foreboding and menacing in his portrayal of Amleth, who has seemingly become numb to the violence and bloodshed that he inflicts upon the world. Watching The Northman you simply can’t help but root for the bear-wolf to succeed in extracting vengeance upon his uncle.

In classic Eggers style the director weaves deep Norse mythology and mysticism throughout the film. A stylistic choice which sees The Northman straddling a line between straight forward, visceral, bloodbath and ethereal art piece.

The trailer for The Northman belies a truly deeply violent film. Whilst there are moments of deep violence these are not the central focus of this film, in fact much of the violence is off-screen and simply implied. Rather this film’s focus is on the corrupting nature of hatred as it sets Amleth on an unwavering and unstoppable death march.

The Northman is a film which begs to be experienced on the big screen. Visually this is a breathtaking film thanks to the sweeping Icelandic landscapes and colour pallet consisting of cold blues and greens with flashes of orange and reds.

Overall The Northman is a highly entertaining film which interweaves elements of old Norse mythology, Hollywood epics & Shakespearean revenge.

★★★★

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