The Northman

The Northman ★★★★

Writer and Director Robert Eggers is one of those people that makes films that must be seen to be believed. It’s crazy to think that a film like this was ever possible, or that it could be so very watchable. In three films, Eggers has done something that you don’t see much of anymore. Bring original stories to life that achieve the highest critical acclaim, with more praise being shown to each passing film.

It feels like The Northman holds two contradictory ideas together at the same time. On one hand, this is totally bonkers with blood, steel and guts.The action is all that one could ever want. A real to life viking tale with sword and shields, a valkyrie ride to Vahlalla and prayers to Odin. On the other hand, The Northman is completely amazing and is a technical marvel.The dedication to shooting much of the film in long single takes, is a beauty to behold. Eggers and his team plan everything out and watching that vision come to life is breathtaking. The Northman could easily have been two different movies, but Eggers is able to make both of these movies at the same time. Neither are fighting with each other, but are cohesive and work together.

I feel like an easy comparison can be made to Gladiator. Both are epics with swords and sandals, have a central story based on revenge with a main character returning from the dead. It takes great care and greater skill, to be able to do both at the same time.The Northman is able to please all in the audience. The ones that are interested in the newest movie out, and those interested in the newest movie from Eggers. That is what makes me so happy about the film.

Sadly films like Gladiator and The Northman aren’t made anymore. I don’t mean to throw the MCU under the bus, but I want to cast a wider net. It’s more about reboots, remakes and studios often putting all their eggs in blockbusters. Sadly that has meant the death of films with a mid budget. The smaller films that cost next to nothing to make, can find funding. It can be a struggle, but somehow they do it. Strangely, studios no longer make films that don’t cost the farm. They want to bet everything on one or two movies that aim to make a billion at the box office. For all the folks like me, and others that want to see something that isn’t a studio blockbuster, then seeing this helps other original films get made at this scale.

Writing about The Northman, and thinking about it more, made me come to appreciate and like it more than I had originally thought. The amount of depth in the story is surprising, since it's a tale as old as time. And yet the writers, Eggers and Sjon, are able to bring something to it, that is more than putting a viking spin on it. The film shows that the viking mythology, lore, culture and people are not the stereotypes we know, but are more. The performances are another highlight, as The Northman is a film that is full of highlights.

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