‘The Northman’ An Intense Viking Revenge Story You Shouldn’t Miss

Alexander Skarsgard stars as the lead character, Amleth, a prince who’s made a vow to avenge his father who was murdered and usurped by his uncle; a big brute called Fjölnir, played by Claes Bang. Amleth’s life is ripped away from him at a young age. He loses his father, his kingdom, has his mother kidnapped (played by Nicole Kidman), and his purpose. What we get next is a straightforward Viking revenge tale that is equal parts violent and equal parts mysticism. There’s lots to like about this movie and I really feel like you should give it chance. The film can be slow moving at times, but I really believe the subtle acting and beautiful grimy visuals help construct the identity of this film and it also tells it in such a unique way, that it’s hard not to keep your eyes off. Director Robert Eggers (whose also directed films such as The Witch and The Lighthouse) hits another homerun with this flick.

The Northman has a simple and linear story to tell. The most compelling parts of the film, are told through the beautiful cinematography instilled in every single frame of the movie. It’s wonderfully dark and gruesome as you could imagine. We see the violent nature of the Vikings, and the camera never seems to shy away from showing us the ugly brutality of the kills. There is lots of blood everywhere, but the movie doesn’t try to glorify the violence but rather show us the grim reality of the horrible pillaging and plundering these groups would partake in. They’d show us the innocent elders, women and children that would get caught up in the crossfire, ending in complete annihilation. It makes us ask, “are we supposed to be rooting for these people?” No, we are not. Alexander Skarsgard does well to lead this film, and shows us the duality of his character. One, in which his enormous form towers over most with a hint of animal-like behavior and strength. Underneath his feral guise, we have a very sad and broken man trying to fulfill a promise he’s made to himself, but ultimately will never be enough. He play’s a very believable character and I think it’s super important that we get these facets of the character since we the audience need to believe that Amleth has been preparing his whole life for this, while also showing us the toll it’s taken on his psyche. This is a man who will stop at nothing to get what he want’s, but at what cost?

During his journey, Amleth runs into a sorceress called Olga, played by Anna Taylor-Joy. I don’t want to get into the specifics of their dynamic, but essentially, she offers Amleth a hopeful life together, ultimately giving him a choice to change the trajectory his life. His goal is within reach, but he is too far gone to turn back now. I really enjoyed that this wasn’t a hero’s journey. There is complexity and nuance to it which I think landed so well and was believable. My only real gripe with the film being that there are many slow moments, which I’m personally fine with, but some may find boring. I do feel like it’s worth sticking out.

Beyond the film, there is just so much wonderful visual storytelling. They really lean into the magic and mysticism here, which I think works so well for a Viking tale. You cannot tell me some of the stuff here isn’t the coolest visuals you’ve ever seen before. My takeaway from this film is that violence begets violence. Amleth fulfilled what he so desperately vowed to himself ever since he was a child, “I will avenge you, Father. I will save you, Mother. I will kill you Fjölnir.” The events don’t exactly play out how we thought they would and I appreciated this type of subversion. The Northman is full os strong performances froim the entire cast, even those that didn’t have much screen time but leave a lasting impression (looking at you Willem Dafoe). If you have not seen this movie up until this point, I highly recommend you check it out.

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