The Northman

The Northman ★★★★

He-Witch: You must choose between kindness for your kin, and hatred for your enemies.

I think it's safe to say now that whenever Robert Egger will direct a movie, you know that he'll deliver a story that is crafted with care and great details. And the result is even more spectacular when you give him a bigger production budget!

We're all familiar at this point of the story's plot, since the story of Amleth directly inspired the famous Shakespear play that is Hamlet. But it's still fascinating to see that the element of vengeance isn't in the end the biggest part of Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård)'s journey. It's about a man finding himself and fighting for the destiny he's meant to fulfill. By becoming a Berserker, and then a slave in order to be in the land of Fjölnir (Claes Bang), not only is he closer to his prey, but he also gains the strength to fight him. Not only that, the way the vengeance turns in the end makes you think how nuanced the whole thing is.

Everything that is presented to us, from the costumes to the Nordic mythology, has been studied carefully, bringing to the light a more accurate vision of the times of Vikings. It's an aspect I very much appreciate and respect from Egger. Even in his previous films, there is always an attention to authenticity in the environment and the period he bring us in. And I'm also very satisfied that the violence depicted here is used cleverly. The brutality of the soldiers is very present, but we rarely see any gore or shocking images, and when we do, it's never in order to shock or provoke us.

We also need to mention the way The Northman is edited. Very few cutscenes, and the camera is always following where the action is. It's contemplative, yet we always move with the characters. Add with that the cinematography of the long time DP collaborator Jarin Blaschke and you get some gorgeous images. Not to mention all the trippy sequences like the ones with Valhalla, or the Family Tree, even the one with the Witch is haunting. And what a soundtrack!

I'm glad we get to witness the works of a director such as Robert Egger. A mix of history study that remains fun to watch. I can't wait to see what else he's got in store.

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