The Northman

The Northman ★★★½

There aren’t many surprises in Robert Eggars blood-soaked Viking revenge drama, it’s very much what you might expect – visceral, violent, and broodingly dark throughout. If you’re up for a bit of old-style uber-violence, then this is the film for you. My favourite parts were the more fantastical elements, particularly Bjork’s cameo as the Seeress and the mythological references to Odin, The One Tree, Valkyries, and Valhalla.

The revenge drama is a well-trodden genre and, apart from some musings on fate, there’s very little here you couldn’t predict from early on. What you do get is some awesome cinematography and a gruelling insight into what Viking life might actually have been like – and it isn’t pretty. I was reminded of Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God which also provided an uncompromising glimpse into our backstory.

Overall, I enjoyed this less that Eggar’s previous movies, The Lighthouse and The Witch, both of which were more subtle and had stronger narratives. It also felt a little long given the straightforward plot – to the extent the final scene felt a bit rushed.

Still, it’s a powerful, kinetic, saga worth seeing on a big screen – though maybe avoid if you’re in the least bit squeamish.

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