Robert Eggers’ ‘The Northman’ Is a Visually Resplendent Viking Saga

Dads! Are you planning a trip on a motorcycle with your boys? Mom staying behind because she has “stuff to do”? Vroom—don’t walk—to the nearest cinema showing Robert Eggers’ The NorthmanVisually stunning Viking tale that encompasses revenge, family ideals, and amazing silver jewelry.

Eggers co-wrote the film with the Icelandic poet and novelist Sjón, with an eye toward capturing old Norse culture as a rich repository of art, poetry, and spiritual beliefs. Another contribution to history is the farting and belching tests for manhood. Vikings were complex people.

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The story opens in the early 10th century in the British Isles, where fresh-faced 10-year-old Prince Amleth (Oscar Novak) is destined to succeed his father King Aurvandil (Ethan Hawke). But Aurvandil’s troublemaking brother Fjolnir (Claes Bang) wreaks murderous havoc on that plan, carrying Amleth’s mother Gudrun off like a prize. (She’s played by Nicole Kidman, in a marvelous crimped mane à la Studio 54.) Young Amleth, who escapes from violence vows revenge and, after growing into Alexander Skarsgard’s beefy body, set out to find it.

He also makes sweet love to saucy enslaved girl Olga of the Birch Forest (Anya Taylor-Joy), and has a hallucinatory meeting with a blind seer (Björk) who urges him not to stray from his mission. Eggers takes the mission seriously and sometimes fulfills it with a comical sense of solemnity. “Your sword is long!” exclaims one of the Viking womenfolk as she gazes upon Amleth’s ancestral iron weapon. Still, there’s always something to look at in this cracked magisterial landscape of moss and mud and angry volcanoes. The Northman It doesn’t matter if you view it as folklore, or as testosterone-fueled Saturday afternoon lark. The 10-year-old boy inside of all of us speaks with a strong Viking burp.

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