Time: 137 minutes
Age Rating: Graphic violence, cruelty, animal cruelty & sexual material
Alexander Skarsgård as Amleth
Nicole Kidman as Queen Gudrún
Claes Bang as Fjölnir the Brotherless
Anya Taylor-Joy as Olga of the Birch Forest
Ethan Hawke as King Aurvandill War-Raven
Willem Dafoe as Heimir the Fool
Björk as the Seeress
Director: Robert Eggers
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 one of my most anticipated movies of 2022. Robert Eggers has started becoming one of my favourite directors with his two movies, The Witch and The Lighthouse. His third film would be on a larger scale, with it being a Norse revenge story as opposed to a contained horror film. Add on top of that a cast which includes Alexander Skarsgard, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Nicole Kidman and Willem Dafoe, and it looked quite exciting. The Northman more than lived up to all the hyp
Compared to his previous two movies, The Northman is definitely Robert Eggers’s most accessible movie by far. With that said, I wouldn’t say its for everyone, it’s still dark, brutal and strange like I hoped it would be. At its core, the story is fairly simplistic as a revenge story. An interesting fact however it is a retelling of the Scandinavian legend Amleth, which is the story that William Shakespeare’s Hamlet is based on. I really liked its depiction of vengeance and the portrayal the endless cycle of violence, making it more than just another typical revenge movie. As expected, when it comes to Robert Eggers, the writing is quite authentic to the time period, especially with the dialogue. This also extends to the Norse mythology, while I’m not expert in it, it seems like Eggers has a deep understanding of it. The Northman is fairly slowly paced across its 2 hours and 30 minutes runtime, but I think the pacing was just right for this movie.
The performances from everyone are great, no matter how little screen time they have, they make strong impressions in their roles. As the protagonist Amleth, Alexander Skarsgard gives one of his best performances, if not his best. It’s a very physical performance and he’s brooding and stoic as a beast of a man looking for revenge, but also shows genuine emotion. Anya Taylor-Joy as usual was amazing and although they don’t have as many scenes together as I would’ve liked, she and Skarsgard have great chemistry together. Nicole Kidman is one of the standouts of the film as Amleth’s mother. She makes the most of her screentime, with a monologue in the second half particularly standing out. Claes Bang is also effective as the main villain and the target of Amleth’s vengeance. Other actors like Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Bjork aren’t in the movie a huge amount, but nonetheless are memorable and play their parts well.
The direction by Robert Eggers was exceptional, he really gets better at his craft with every subsequent movie. While it is his most conventional movie, The Northman definitely is an Eggers movie and is just as weird and dark as you’d expect from him. In contrast to The Witch and The Lighthouse, The Northman has a larger budget and he really makes the most out of it. The film truly is a spectacle and I’m so glad that I got to watch it on the big screen. The cinematography and visuals are amazing and make use of the locations. It really immerses you into this world, especially with the long takes. The battle sequences are great and uncompromising, fittingly gnarly, gritty and over the top at times. Without getting too into depth, the final fight really is satisfying. Eggers’s attention to detail (mainly with historical accuracy) also extends to his direction, with costume and production designs being exceptional and on point. Finally, the score by Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough perfectly fits the mood and feel of the movie.
Allegedly, Robert Eggers had to make some compromises to get this movie made and I have to say, the end result is still very impressive. The Northman is one of those big budget hard R epic that we sadly don’t get much of nowadays. It’s a creative, ambitious, uncompromising and brutal Norse revenge epic, that’s visually stunning and an incredible experience. The cast impresses, especially Skarsgard, Taylor-Joy and Kidman, and the direction from Eggers is fantastic. It’s already one of the best movies of 2022.