The Northman

April 22, 202285/1006 min
Alexander Skarsgãrd, Nicole Kidman, Claes Band, Ethan Hawke
Written by
Robert Eggers and Sjón
Directed by
Robert Eggers
Run Time
2h 16min
Release Date
April 22nd, 2022
Overall Score
Rating Summary

            Robert Eggers is never someone who goes half way on anything. If you have seen The Witch or The Lighthouse you know Eggers is a stickler for both visual and audio details. For his latest The Northman he unleashes the full might of Valhalla. This is an adaption of the 13th century tale of Amleth, which was the direct inspiration for Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, but fear not, there are no long soliloquies, and clever wordplay here as Eggers has chiseled Amleth to the basics of the story, with some serious Conan the Barbarian vibes thrown in for good measure.

           King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke) has just returned home from war and there waiting to greet him are his son Amleth and Queen Gurdún (Nicole Kidman). Together they celebrate Aurvandil’s victory and revel in the spoils of war. With Aurvandil back it is also time for a little father/son time as Amleth is on his path to manhood, which consists of a wild night on all fours with his father, releasing the beast that is within. Things take a turn in the morning when Aurvandil is attacked and killed by his brother Fjölnir ( Claes Bang) as Amleth escapes the same fate as he makes his way out to sea, vowing to avenge his father, to save his mother, and to kill Fjölnir. Years later Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) is a warrior himself and quite the ruthless one at that. After he and his war tribe take a village he hears that a group of slaves are going to be taken to where Fjölnir is, thus presenting him with a path to the revenge he has sought. Disguising himself  as a slave he is taken to not his homeland, but to Iceland where Fjölnir has relocated to. With the help of fellow slave, Olga of the Birch Forest (Anya Taylor-Joy) he begins to instill fear in the village. Using both stealth and mystical elements, Amleth begins to exact his revenge on his wicked uncle.

Eggers who directs and co-writes the screenplay with Sjón delivers a straightforward revenge plot sprinkled with humor and some crowd pleasing verve. The intensity of the filmmaking is easily matched by the cast  Eggers has assembled, with standouts Kidman and Anya Taylor-Joy and of course Skarsgård, who really gets into it because of his own real-life Viking heritage. Much like Eggers other films, you feel each scene and live in it with its characters as he makes a spectacle out of masculinity as they howl and roar their emotions. The action is intense and the visions Amleth endures are trippy and eerie.

             The Northman is definitely Eggers crowning achievement to date as he delivers an epic revenge saga that stirs the soul as well as your senses. And like many epics that came before, it is big, beautiful, bloody and brilliant! We are transported back to this time in vicious fashion and witness a place filled with fatality and ferocity, but also hope for a better future. To see or not to see, that is the question, and the answer is a resounding “YES!” as films as glorious as The Northman are harder and harder to come by in the theater. Eggers delivers an erupting volcano of a film that will shake the walls with Nordic mythology and brutality. And by Oden’s beard, this is a tale you won’t soon forget.

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