The Northman

The Northman ★★★★

At this point Eggers is about as divisive as any other A24 director - I heard people saying "that sucked" about as much as I did when I first saw Hereditary in the theater. And like that one, I really enjoyed this. The story is Hamlet, or more accurately an adaptation of the saga of Amleth. The interesting connective tissue of Eggers work so far is the way it eschews the "these people were just like us" ahistoricity of popular historical fictions. Like HBO's Rome in its best moments, the priorities and moralities of the characters of The Northman are entirely unlike our own. Violence is a constant threat, especially male brutality.
Of course, the idea of "historical accuracy" is moot if the story sucks. If you like Hamlet, this doesn't suck. The idiosyncrasies are reminiscent of the Viking sagas I've read in translation, especially the preoccupation with the good death of a warrior. Like The Green Knight, the weirdness is inherent to the text and tradition, and makes it more interesting for those oddities.

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