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The Northman Review: The Breath Of The Epic Returns Impetuous, Mad And Brutal By Robert Eggers

cast: Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Björk

director: Robert Eggers

Where To Watch: Theaters on (22nd April)

Filmyhype.com Ratings: 4.5/5 (four and half star)

Fimyhype Ratings

Robert Eggers is back in cinemas with The Northman, his third feature film that fully fits into the poetics of the young American director and of which we present our review. after The Vvitch and The LighthouseThe Northman is a story tinged with magic, folklore and Norse myths that form the backdrop to one of the most famous tales. The protagonist, played by Alexander Skarsgård, follows with blind fury his thirst for revenge against his uncle who, when Amleth was still a child, killed his father in front of him.

Alongside the Swedish actor, the cast is made up of well-known names: Anya Taylor Joy returns to work with Eggers after being the protagonist of the VvitchNicol KidmanEthan HawkeClaes Bang and Willem Dafoe are the mosaic of actors who populate the visions of Amleth. A cast of this magnitude, although in Eggers’ previous works there was no shortage of important actors, it was possible thanks to a budget of 90 million dollars, to come to terms with a Major that however compromised some of the director’s stylistic traits. However, The Northman falls within Eggers’ poetics thanks to two parallel narratives that give the right depth to one of the most exploited archetypes in the history of cinema and literature

The Northman Review: The Story

Thousand Years in the Northern Lands† Amleth is confidently awaiting the return of his father Aurvandil, the Raven King, from battle. When the latter returns to his son and Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman), the celebrations are short-lived. Aurvandil has been injured and seriously begins to think about announcing Amleth as his successor, but first the boy has to undertake an initiation rite that will make him a man. Immediately after father and son have gone through the ritual together, Aurvandil’s brother, Fjölnir, surrounds them with his men and kills the King.

Amleth manages to escape by sea as he sees his screaming mother being taken away from Fjölnir to be crowned as his queen. It is at that moment that Amleth vows to take revenge on his uncle. Years later, Amleth joined the company of the Rus thanks to which he became a strong and merciless warrior. During an assault on a village he discovers that Fjölnir has lost his throne and lives as a feudal lord in Iceland. Posing as a slave, he manages to reach his uncle’s land and initiate his revenge.

The Northman

Inspired by one of the episodes of the Saxo Grammaticus (which also inspired Shakespeare) The Northman tells a story of revenge: that of Prince Hamlet (Alexander Skarsgård) with the killer and usurper of the throne and his father’s bed. After witnessing the brutal death of his father King Aurvandil (Ethan Hawke) and escaping the assassins, Hamlet swears revenge on his murderous uncle and hopes to save his motherwho is forced to live with him as a wife.

Saved by the people of Rus, Hamlet becomes a mighty and ruthless warrior, “with a force that breaks bones”, taking part in raids and battles. Upon learning that his uncle Fjölnir (Claes Bang) has lost his kingdom in Norway and moved to Iceland, Hamlet decides to join him and attempt his revenge. his fate of hers will intertwine with that of Olga of the birch forest (Anya Taylor-Joy), a prisoner of Slavic origins who draws her strength from her intelligence and close relationship with mother nature. The path to revenge, predicted by three sorcerers and marked by a sword named Dragr (the undead), will force Hamlet to choose whether to stay on the path predicted to him or to leave the logic of vengeance and honor, in search of a life guided by love.

The Northman Review And Analysis

Visually The Northman is bewitching in its extreme, brutal being. The blood continues to flow, the limbs are cut off, the hard labors of slavery consume the bodies, the real protagonists of the film. However, the epic and magic dimension is flanked by the narrow historical everyday life, fused with great naturalness to history in scenes of enormous visual impact (the ride of the Valkyrie, the duel with the spirit for the sword, the dialogue with the prophet which interpreted from Björk).

Added to this is a direction rich in lateral carriages, prolonged and wide movements in time and space, which let the protagonist enter and exit the scene, which give a sense of fullness, of complexity. there is also a splendid piano sequence that describes the Viking assault on a village as a collective chorus of cries, laments and death. Mythology is saturated with stories where the protagonist, filled with hatred and resentment, lives with the mere thought of taking revenge on him. This is the starting point of Eggers who draws heavily from one of the short stories written by Saxo Grammaticus, a story then reworked by Shakespeare who gave shape to his famous Hamlet. It is no coincidence that the protagonist bears the name of Amleth, but there is no dilemma that torments him. Ever since he promised his father to avenge him if he died in battle, Amleth treads a path that has already been chosen for him. As in his two previous feature films, Eggers brings a story tinged with folklore and magic to the screen.

Unlike The Vvitch and The Lighthouse – both set in New England – with The Northman we move to the cold north of Europe, to a green and desolate Iceland that becomes the setting for a story where Shakesperare meets the Viking age, bloody and rawAmleth’s path is punctuated by encounters with oracles and mystical visions that guide him to carry out his revenge. The Valkyries, the mythical scenery of valhalla the witch Seeress (played by the singer Björk) and the rituals performed by the Vikings around the year 1000 provide the fundamental mystical element without which the film would never have achieved what Eggers did. But in this Eggers has already shown that he is a master, recreating environments so far from us and letting us enter ever different worlds seems to be his daily bread.

The Northman Images 4

In The Northman two parallel narrative lines coexist that give the right complexity to a story that has been reworked several times, by several hands and by several minds, throughout the history of cinema and literature. On the one hand there is the charm that only such a classic basis of the narrative can give: Eggers takes the incipit of Hamlet and makes him live in a character who has the same anger, blind and furious, as Achilles and adding – without exceeding – the morbid relationship of Oedipus with his own mother.

The idea of ​​the Viking setting turns out to be a winning one. Amleth vents his anger in a violent, raw and bloody way, gestures that Eggers does not hide but exalts. A violence that begins when Amleth is still a child and becomes her only companion. The assaults of the villages with the company of the Rus are a taste of the brutality to which Amleth subjects her enemies, a fury that finds its apex in becoming a vengeful spirit, a curse that haunts her uncle’s tribe. The figure of Amleth itself merges with the primordial nature, so much so that the man mainly howls and screams, rarely speaks making the dialogues superfluous.

In this Alexander Skarsgård is the best choice, the right actor to entrust such a particular part to. With his almost two meters tall and an imposing physique, Skarsgård moves in an animalistic way in the scene, with his shoulders hunched and with rapidity in the attacks. But he becomes a vengeful God as he wanders at night among the houses and above the roofs, where his figure often stands out in the middle of the frame, in total darkness and the silhouette of him frightens his enemies. But Amleth is neither a God nor a spirit, he is a man who escapes the definition of character to enter that of the archetype.

The other well-known names that make up the cast of The Northman move around Skarsgård and, like a chorus of Greek tragedies, accompany Amleth in his revenge. The acting is deliberately inspired by a theatrical register where the dialogues are shouted, the faces of the characters are fundamental to understand more of their psychology, so much so that Eggers continually returns to re-propose their close-ups, especially during the visions of amleth. Anya Taylor-Joy plays a slave, Olga, who shares much of the fury that Amleth feels, but unlike her partner, she wants to escape to enjoy her freedom. Taylor-Joy returns to play a character who has a strong connection with nature, which she uses and exploits to achieve her goal.

If the narration has a purely theatrical character, the aesthetics follow a very specific register. To move away from being a transposition of a play – with which it has a lot in common – The Northman uses a purely cinematic language. Dollies continually alternate with close-ups that showcase the emotions in the faces of the characters. The green and glacial settings are the background to the tribe of Fjölnir, the camera becomes an active character when it focuses on shots that show multiple levels of reading: from what happens in the foreground to the actions performed in the background, ranging from to enrich and make the whole scenography more credible.

To mitigate The Northman – the third act of Eggers’ poetics that completes a trilogy of folklore with this film – is the name of a Major behind the project. If you look at the director’s previous works, it is clear how they were imbued with symbolism and undertones that could only be grasped by more attentive and curious spectators. The Northman instead approaches a different viewer, a mass audience who can easily appreciate the story of Amleth precisely because it has been told countless times by different people.

The Northman Review: The Last Words

Opening up to a wider audience is not a defect and The Northman perfectly manages to balance the peculiarities of an epic blockbuster with the authorship that Eggers’ touch gives to every single choice, both directorial and narrative. The curiosity that remains, however, with a bit of a bitter taste in the mouth, is the idea of ​​how the film could have been if there hadn’t been a name of a Major behind it and a budget so high as to expect a lot of return. important. Especially as regards the language used: given the excellent work done in the director’s last two films, it is alienating that the actors speak English and not an ancient Nordic language. A challenge that both Eggers and the writer Sjón – who has already stepped into the role of screenwriter with Lamb could support, but which would certainly have driven a good chunk of the public away.

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Ramee S

Ramee S, Senior Editor, @Newzpanda.com. Contact: trendyblogger@yahoo.com

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