The Northman

The Northman ★★★★★


Maybe could've used a bit of a trim, but when the vibes are as feral and beastly as this, it's not really a problem. Robert Eggers is one of the most exciting voices right now as far as I'm concerned, and The Northman is his usual tactile vision on a grand mythological scale. Obsessed with ritual and decay in historical settings, his films function as both visceral re-enactment and determined exercises in absurdity. A fart joke here, a beheading there, and all of it is compelling. So many war drums on the soundtrack. Tons of howling and throat-singing. With chapter-titles like 'The Night Blade Feeds', it's easy to assume that The Northman carries a level of strained seriousness with its one-take trickery and opulent period detail, but Robert Eggers allows the vengeance quest narrative to take center stage. It's simplistic but riveting stuff, with Conan the Barbarian's acid-dreams and Apocalypto's vicious fury seemingly being the two central points of reference. Nighttime scenes shiver with a silver glow, and fire is utilized as a bright contrast to the cold unforgiving landscape. It isn't afraid to treat its mythology seriously either. A fucking Draugr boss-battle is one of many haunted pleasures in this tale of fire and ice. The Northman grounds itself in the mud, snow, and lava - even as its aspirations soar towards the blinding gates of Valhalla. A great movie.

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