Robert Eggers’s Vicious Story of Viking Revenge
The Pitch: There’s an outdated Klingon proverb that claims revenge is a dish greatest served chilly. Effectively, it’s very chilly in Iceland.
It’s a story as outdated as Shakespeare (and, in reality, adapts extra straight the Norse legend on which Hamlet was based mostly): In 892 AD, a younger Viking prince named Amleth sees his father, King Aurvandill (Ethan Hawke), return wounded from an expedition, just for his bastard brother Fjölnir (Dracula‘s Claes Bang) to strike him down and stage a violent coup. Their village operating pink with blood, Amleth escapes sure demise solely to see Fjölnir taking Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) for himself; Amleth flees, revenge on his lips.
Years later, he’s grown right into a mighty beast of a Viking (Alexander Skarsgård), mindlessly raping and raiding and pillaging whereas looking for his likelihood for revenge. And when a mysterious seer (Björk) prophesies the top of his journey (and its vacation spot in Iceland), he stows away on a slave ship to lastly slay his father’s killer — with the help of Olga (Anya Taylor-Pleasure), a Slavic witch and fellow slave who’s drawn to his quest.
However when he lastly arrives at Fjölnir’s new digs, posing as an nameless slave, his thirst for blood grows ever extra difficult by the presence of the supernatural and the amorality of his deed.
That’s All, Folklore: It could possibly be argued that Robert Eggers is without doubt one of the architects of our fashionable horror lexicon: Together with his staggering debut The Witch (which additionally starred Taylor-Pleasure), and later The Lighthouse, Eggers molded a bleak, Expressionistic aesthetic that’s mainly turn into the home type for A24’s horror output.
With The Northman, although, Eggers strikes to Focus Options and makes (for him, at the very least), his most accessible film but: a blood-soaked action-horror image that appears like The Inexperienced Knight meets Conan the Barbarian.
Like his earlier two, Eggers’ newest is one other immersive train in historic folklore, The Northman steeped within the thumping, chest-beating mores of Norse fantasy and manhood. The script, by Eggers and frequent Björk collaborator Sjón, is stuffed with high-minded, stylized dialogue that evokes Shakespearean scope whereas maintaining the viewers enticingly at arm’s size.
There’s speak of Valholl (Valhalla), the god Freyr, the myths of the Fenrir; all are tales that give our characters solace, ambition, hope within the face of darkness. Amleth himself is sure and formed by the parable of the wolf, first taught to him by Aurvandill in unusual, hallucinogenic rituals (with the help of Willem Dafoe’s jester-turned-wizard), then bolstered by his Viking band of berserkers who howl on the moon and put on wolf pelts atop their heads. Amleth endures dreamlike staredowns with desiccated skulls, fights religious battles with demons for command of his fated sword (fittingly known as the Loss of life Blade), and sees visions of his lineage as fruit dangling from the branches of the Tree of Life.
The solid takes to this lyricism properly, particularly Skarsgård, who’s tried the shirtless, brutish motion her factor earlier than (hiya, The Legend of Tarzan), however will get much more layers to play right here. With hunched shoulders and each breath seething smoke, his Amleth lies someplace between man and creature, continuously negotiating between the boy he as soon as was and the monster he needed to turn into to outlive (and practice for this second).