The Northman

The Northman
Original title:The Northman
Director:Robert Eggers
Running time:137 minutes
Release date:22 april 2022
Young Prince Amleth has just become a man when his father is brutally murdered by his uncle, who then seizes the boy's mother. Amleth flees his island kingdom by boat, vowing revenge. Two decades later, Amleth has become a berserkr, a Viking warrior capable of going into a bestial fury, who plunders and sets fire to Slavic villages with his berserkir brothers until a soothsayer reminds him of his vow to avenge his father, rescue his mother and kill his uncle. He then boards a ship for Iceland and enters, with the help of Olga, a young Slav taken as a slave, into his uncle's farm, also posing as a slave, with the intention of carrying out his revenge.

Mulder's Review

The importance of discovering a film in a movie theater cannot be overstated. Not only does this space allow us to be totally immersed in the story being told, but above all it allows us to escape for the duration of a screening into a universe that is different from our own and yet often succeeds in making us reflect on our ephemerality on earth and on the often chaotic course of our existence. Certainly the new film co-written and directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch (2015), The lighthouse (2019), The Northman (2022)). Each of his films is an intense experience, a film as strong by its visual beauty as by a strong will of this director to break out of the preformatted mold of current American cinema. Despite its Hollywood cast (Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Björk, Willem Dafoe) The Northman is first and foremost an epic film, a man's quest for revenge on the man who killed his father.

Prince Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) is about to become a man when his father, King Horvendill (Ethan Hawke) is brutally murdered by his uncle, who kidnaps the boy's mother, Queen Gudrun (Nicole Kidman). Escaping his certain death two decades later, the boy has become a Viking on a mission to rescue his mother, kill his uncle and avenge his father. Now a strong and ruthless man, he allows himself to be likened to a slave to carry out his crusade. The Northman is a spiritual quest as much as it is a quest for revenge by a man who has lost his faith and is driven only by his desire to kill and honor his father's memory. Yet what he thought was reality will reveal heavy secrets about his past.

What is fascinating in the perfect filmography of Robert Eggers is his will to remain master of his work. To do this, he has to build films without unnecessary artifice, without flashy special effects that are only present to fill in the gaps in the script and to give the audience its dose of bloated adrenaline. It is not by chance that this director has built a real family of actors and we find here Anya Taylor-Joy (revelation of his first film) and the actor Willem Dafoe (present in his second film). The graphic aspect is once again an important part of this film and it can be read with the same pleasure that we would take to read a graphic novel without knowing what awaits us on the next page. The Northman is based on The legend of Amleth by Saxo Grammaticus and will allow the spectators to dive back into a hostile world in which violence is omnipresent and in which the law of the strongest dominates.

This Viking epic never forgets the importance of developing the psychological aspect of people and avoids proposing a nth blockbuster in which the action predominates above all. It is certainly the largest budget allocated to director Robert Eggers yet he remains faithful to his themes such as addressing the family, human madness, the place of man in a hostile environment, religious beliefs and witchcraft. The director resorts to several pictorial scenes featuring local folklore such as valkyries, witches, evil creatures. The numerous psychedelic images go in this direction and make The Northman a real cinematographic experience.

The film is reminiscent of William Shakespeare's Hamlet, but also of Conan the Barbarian (1982), Dances with Wolves (1991) and more recently Valhalla Rising (2010), all of which will make it easier for viewers to get into a daring and totally fascinating film. The music of Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough easily reinforces our immersion.

Director Robert Eggers puts at the center of the story the duality of the main character who has to fight against his own inner demons and yet will know love thanks to a slave, Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy). The importance of love and starting a family is also at the center of the story and shows the human character of the character torn between his duty and living with the one he loves. Once again, the actor Alexander Skarsgård delivers an extraordinary and intense performance. With his imposing physique and the duality of his character, he simply delivers here one of his best interpretations. 

The Northman
Directed by Robert Eggers
Written by Sjón, Robert Eggers
Based on The legend of Amleth by Saxo Grammaticus
Produced by Mark Huffam, Lars Knudsen, Robert Eggers, Alexander Skarsgård, Arnon Milchan
Starring Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Björk, Willem Dafoe
Cinematography : Jarin Blaschke
Edited by Louise Ford
Music by Robin Carolan, Sebastian Gainsborough
Production companies : Regency Enterprises, Perfect World Pictures, New Regency, Square Peg
Distributed by Focus Features (United States), Universal Pictures (international)
Release dates March 28, 2022 (Rigoletto Cinema), April 22, 2022 (United States), May 11, 2022 (France)
Running time : 137 minutes

Seen on May 10, 2022 at Gaumont Disney Village, Room 8 seat A17

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