The third feature film for Director Robert Eggars ‘The Northman‘ opened this past weekend to many anticipating fans. If you’re not familiar with his work, I highly recommend you go watch The Lighthouse and The Witch. I will not be talking about them further on, but figured they deserve a mention.
There’s a lot of things that drew me to ‘The Northman’ when I first heard about it. I like Robert Eggars’ films, I’m a big fan of the Viking setting in tv shows and movies, the cast is superb, and oh man that trailer was impressive. I’ve attached it below so you can watch it yourself.
The official synopsis for ‘The Northman‘ is as follows:
Prince Amleth is on the verge of becoming a man when his father is brutally murdered by his uncle, who kidnaps the boy’s mother. Two decades later, Amleth is now a Viking who raids Slavic villages. He soon meets a seeress who reminds him of his vow — save his mother, kill his uncle, avenge his father.
‘The Northman‘ was marketed as an Action-Adventure movie.
It had a budget between $70-$90 million.
Directed By : Robert Eggars
Written By: Robert Eggars and Sjón
Cinematography By: Jarin Blaschke
Edited By: Louise Ford
Distributed By: Focus Features and Universal Pictures
Principle Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Claes Bang, Ethan Hawke, and Willem Dafoe
I walked into ‘The Northman’ expecting a bloody action-adventure film and instead got a masterfully crafted take on a Medieval Danish Legend which was more an art house film with the feel of a Greek tragedy than an epic action-adventure.
I did not expect to see the movie that I saw, and I was not disappointed.
From start to finish you can’t keep your eyes peeled away from the screen. Every frame is visually stunning. It has sweeping landscapes, actions scenes filled with misery and gore, scenes straight out of your most recent bad shroom trip; eye candy galore. With Robert Eggars directing and Jarin Blaschke as cinematographer you expect stunning visuals and ‘The Northman‘ truly delivers.
The story was slow burning, to a degree that is in my opinion, not suited for an action film.
The film felt more of a Greek Tragedy, the stakes were always high, conspiracy and treachery are always afoot, there’s a new obstacle or twist at every corner. It’s not an easy journey, but it’s a good one. The dialogue is written in a way where the characters hang on every word and it feels poetic.
I’d imagine it was outright confusing for people if they’re not used to hearing that sort of style, so for those expecting an action film I would get their frustration.
There is definitely action in the the movie, whether it’s good action or not depends entirely on your perspective.
The action sequences in ‘The Northman‘ are pretty few and far between. They are brief but incredible spectacles showcasing the violence and ferocity of the times. The action is not the focus of the film. And I think that’s a very odd thing to realize when you’re watching this movie for the first time, expecting an action film.
Instead, the focus is on the characters of our story and the time period they live in.
The cast is stellar. Alexander Skarsgard plays our protagonist and, as most would say our point-of-view, throughout the story. He does a pretty good job and it’s obvious that he put in a lot of work to look the part of a Viking Berserker.
Anya Taylor-Joy does what Anya Taylor-Joy does; brooding, mysterious, and cunning, a Slavic Slave named Olga joins the story alongside Amleth to help him on his mission while fighting for her own freedom. Anya Taylor-Joy does a great job as you’d expect of her.
Nicole Kidman does not have that many lines throughout the film, but every time she appears on screen she just commands attention. She delivers her lines flawlessly. There is one scene in particular that sticks out in my mind, where it seems like she becomes possessed. Chilling.
It’s the same thing with Willem Dafoe, he doesn’t appear much throughout the movie but his dialogue always has incredible weight. Who doesn’t love Willem Dafoe? I don’t think anyone would argue that he’s a terrific actor and he makes a great addition to this cast.
I don’t want to mention more of the cast to avoid spoiling anything.
Should you go watch ‘The Northman’?
I’ll be giving ‘The Northman‘ an 8/10.
Going into the movie I thought I was going to get an action movie set to a Viking Backdrop. I did not, I was not disappointed with the movie at all, I thought it was fantastic. But I think it’s super important to note that this was and still is being marketed as an action film. It’s not.
It feels more like a Greek Tragedy(which it’s meant to). The action itself is good but it’s painfully slow(except for the last scene) and action sequences are really few and far between and are very brief.
This feels like a Robert Eggars movie through and through. Wonderful cinematography, a great story with cultural and religious-even sometimes cultish- themes and a stellar cast.
The story is simple and straight forward enough for you to understand it regardless of whether you understand everything that everyone is saying. But even through moments of confusion, you get the jist and the story carries on.
It’s entertaining, with plenty of moments that’ll make your jaw drop and your eyes widen.
If you go in solely expecting an action movie, you’ll likely be disappointed. If you watch it with an open mind, I think you’ll be satisfied.
I’ll definitely be re-watching it in the future and recommending it to others!