The Northman

The Northman ★★★★

Gritty, real, honest and uncompromising!

A bloodthirsty tale of betrayal and revenge, fueled by graphic imagery and spellbinding cinematography. It's an excellent addition to Robert Eggers' filmography, though I'm confident he's capable of far greater works, and this one falls just short of being a masterpiece. Even so, it is one of the most artistic revenge thriller films released in recent years.

Personally, I'm a huge fan of cinematography, and this film raises the bar and does not disappoint. There were some minor pacing issues in the second half of the film. And, while the final act, set in the mouth of a volcano, is somewhat of a slog, with a couple of false endings in the hopes of reaching a poetic plain, it is somewhat anti-climactic. Certainly, the final scene aims to explain how a hero's journey, the expectation of fulfilling one's destiny, no matter the consequences, carries a toxic burden.

The film excels not only in costume design, cinematography, great acting, and direction, but also in its depiction and presentation of Norse mythological themes delivered through visions, as well as general mysticism and superstition. A lot of strange unexplained events occur that could be explained away in a variety of ways, but there's no need to because these people saw it for what it was.

Obviously, the fantasies and visions dominate the film. But, honestly, why is Eggers so obsessed with this stuff?

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