Written by Becca Johnson
Violent and powerful from start to finish, The Northman tells an epic, period accurate Viking tale that easily immerses its audience throughout the entire run-time.
Directed by Robert Eggers, The Northman tells a story of revenge. When Price Amleth's father is brutally murdered by his uncle, Amleth seeks revenge years later when he is a strong, bloodthirsty Viking. He embarks on a journey to save his kidnapped mother, kill his uncle and avenge his father.
Viking tales are popular amongst regular movie goers and casual watchers alike, and luckily, The Northman's story excels. It is bloody, brutal and violent from the get-go, and isn't afraid to shock its audience. There is action aplenty to keep you invested, yet also a great amount of quieter moments that allow us to get to know our characters better with thorough development. We follow Amleth from a boy to a man, and are able to root for him regardless of his flaws and thirst for blood. It's a wild ride full of fighting, violence, death, revenge, love, witchcraft and even a couple of twists and turns along the way. It is likely to impress many.
The movies most admirable aspect is undoubtedly its visuals. The cinematography is simply stunning from start to finish, with excellent attention to detail in regards to framing, use of lighting and colour. Each and every shot appears to be meticulously crafted, a trait that can always be found in an Eggers flick. It makes for a highly immersive experience, especially when paired with the enchanting original score from Sebastian Gainsborough. The costume and set design brings everything together harmoniously, creating a feast for the ears and eyes. It's artistic flair is commendable.
With a cast this stacked, the amount of excellent performances was not a surprise. Nicole Kidman is a scene stealer as Queen Gudrun, mother of Amleth who was kidnapped by her late husbands brother. Though her screen-time is minimal, she packs a punch with her mesmerising performance. Anya Taylor-Joy excels as Olga of the Birch Forest, a slave who becomes a love interest for our lead, and exhibits so much emotion throughout her scenes. Claes Bang also impresses as villain Fjolnir the Brotherless, the target of our leads thirst for revenge. However, it is Alexander Skarsgard who shines the brightest in his lead role as Amleth. He exudes the strength and determination of his character, never letting the audience doubt his craft. He truly becomes Amleth, giving a career best performance. Other notable performances include those from Willem Dafoe, Ethan Hawke and Oscar Novak.
Due to Eggers previous directorial work with 2015's The VVitch and 2019's The Lighthouse, it's safe to say he had a lot to live up to, The Northman making its way to many film fans 'Most Anticipated' lists. Though this is his first attempt at a blockbuster-esque movie that takes a break from the horror genre, his artistic flair runs through every scene and it is undeniably Eggers. He is known for his excellent visuals, tension building and unique story-telling, and though The Northman may be his most accessible to date, it stays true to all his best traits. Eggers has once again created a phenomenal movie that is a testament to his talent, and the edge away from horror shows he may have many more strings to his bow. He is without a doubt one of the most exciting film-makers working today.
To summarise, The Northman is something special. It deserves to be seen on the big screen by as large an audience as possible. With its intriguing and engrossing storyline, phenomenal acting performances, gorgeous visuals and flawless directing, it is extremely difficult to find a fault. Its brutal and violent in the best way possible yet precisely artistically crafted, including something for blockbuster fans, Viking enthusiasts and those who enjoy the finer aspects of cinema.