The Northman

The Northman ★★★½

"There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all: since no man has aught of what he leaves, what is't to leave betimes?"—Hamlet V. ii. 159–168

There's a moment in The Witch where, in the wake of his brother's death (and subsequent damnation), Caleb looks to his father for solace, asking if devotion to God's covenant is enough to secure a place in Heaven. There's qualm in his father's response: "I keep an unfeigned grief for the want of grace." Hoping to course-correct their Adamic lineage, Thomasin and her family's dogmatic piety proves ineffectual and all but Thomasin are damned by the end.

Vengeance may be at the heart of Egger's Viking saga, but I wouldn't place it in the "revenge film" category. Amleth's retaliation is toward the cosmos. Seemingly trying to usurp his agency from the fates, he is still led to Fjölnir. And whether by the end he has "chosen" the two paths, Amleth is in no more control of his destiny than Thomasin when she signs Black Phillip’s book.

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