Robert Eggers, director of two acclaimed independent films (The Witch and The Lighthouse), is back with his third feature film, The Northman.
The Northman was set in the year AD 914, although it started earlier than that. We see the brutal slaying of King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke) by his brother Fjölnir The Brotherless (Claes Bang) as Aurvandil’s only son, Amleth (Oscar Novak) watched. After it is believed that Amleth has been killed, Fjölnir claimed his brother’s wife, Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) for his own. Meanwhile, young Amleth promised himself that he would revenge his father, rescue his mother and kill Fjölnir.
Years later, Amleth(now played by Alexander Skarsgård) returned to his uncle’s land as a slave to plot his bloody vengeance. He meets another slave Olga of the Birch Forest (Anya Taylor-Joy) and they fall for each other. Amleth attempt to gaslight Fjölnir before he ultimately claimed his true revenge.
There were several scenes in this Viking epic that were just unexpected. The film was truly beautifully shot and looked amazing. Though there was a lot of violence, the fights were kept to a minimum and, because of that, they never became boring. There was a great sequence during some kind of game that was thoroughly stunning.
Alexander Skarsgård fit this role wonderfully, even though there was not a lot of depth to Amleth. He was a massive brut and that is how Skarsgård played him. There was some really excellent scenes between him and Nicole Kidman, who brought some really great work in The Northman. I found Kidman’s character to be the most complex of the film.
I did find the film to be a touch too long. I could have used some of the early part of the film to be tightened up some and about ten minutes shaved off could have done wonders for me.
The inclusion of Norse mythology in the film at times worked and at other times, felt out of place. There is a specific scene with a Valkyrie that felt weird.
The Northman was a grim and gritty film that feels ugly and dirty, but features some beautiful visuals and a fairly straightforward revenge plot. It is probably my favorite of the three Robert Eggers films, though there are still some issues with length.