If you yearn for an historical based drama that is epic in scale, bathed in blood, very surreal and with a Shakespearean plot then look no further than The Northman. Directed by Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse), The Northman is an ambitious Viking epic centred on one man’s lust for revenge.
Since witnessing his uncle Fjölnir (Claes Kasper Bang) murder his father (Ethan Hawke), steal his throne and kidnap his mother (Nicole Kidman), Amleth escaped and vowed to exact his revenge. Many years later Amleth is a battle hardened, brute of a man who poses as a slave, gets to Iceland where Fjölnir is, and it is there where his plan for vengeance really begins.
The Northman is a bold and compelling saga, one that is not afraid to be over the top. Whether that be in the strange paganistic rituals, one involving a captivatingly bizarre Willem Dafoe, or the utterly brutal combat scenes. These happen frequently and are a wince-inducing joy to watch, with some beatings coming in the midst of a deadly quidditch meets hockey like sport. It is a dark and nihilistic film, with a thick vein of tragedy and despair amongst the weirdness and violence. It is full of Norse mythology, sorcerers and magic and this, the primal music and the beautifully filmed landscapes help immerse you in this world.
The acting is good across the board, with the pick of the bunch being Alexander Skarsgård – who plays Amleth with a steely eye and a blood soaked lust for vengeance. Nicole Kidman puts on a show stopping performance as his mum Gudrún, who is equal parts soft and loving, and hard and cunning. Olga of the birch forest, a sorceress and fellow slave who Amleth meets whilst enslaved is played with panache by the ever expressive Anya Taylor-Joy.
A bold, brutal and beautiful Viking epic, The Northman is an immersive and thoroughly surreal experience built on revenge and its dark consequences.