The Northman: a Viking epic for the ages

The Northman poster via the film's Instagram.

By Emily-Rose Toohey

From the mind of director Robert Eggers comes The Northman, a revenge film set in Viking times that doesn’t shy away from the era’s sheer brutality.

It follows a man named Amleth (played by Alexander Skarsgard), the son of wealthy royals, who sees his father (played by Ethan Hawke) murdered by his uncle and the subsequent take-over of his family’s village.

As a child, he narrowly escapes death and flees the ruins of his hometown, leaving his mother (played by Nicole Kidman) and life behind.

The film then flashes forward to a grown-up Amleth who has completely transformed from the scared child the film introduces viewers to.

He has become a ruthless, heartless killer and is part of a Viking group who destroy lives from village to village, with no remorse and an animal-like nature.

Director Robert Eggers has become know for his extreme attention to detail with films like The Witch (2015) and The Lighthouse (2019), and The Northman is no different.

He has clearly studied Viking history and language and treats the mystical with the same care and reverence as the film’s realism elements.

Eggers manages to capture many horrifying and alarming scenes that have happened in history that are too often forgotten or brushed over in favour of less confronting storytelling.

The extreme violence, poor treatment of women, and general day-to-day lives of people who are not in positions of power is difficult to stomach.

However, the best way to consume The Northman is watching it on the biggest screen available.

Its grandeur and epicness is breathtaking to view, particularly the stunning Icelandic scenery and dramatic battle and dream-like sequences captured deftly by cinematographer Jarin Blaschke.

As Skarsgard’s character commits to seeking revenge against his murderous uncle and his supposedly captured mother, he meets Olga (played by Anya Taylor-Joy) who’s mystical abilities helps Amleth in his violent vengeance quest.

Each actor delivers great performances, with Skarsgard in a more physical role than one requiring much dialogue – this job falls to other actors.

Nonetheless, perhaps The Northman’s most memorable moment is a stunning monologue delivered by Nicole Kidman.

Up until that point, her character isn’t very present but she makes herself known through this speech that is both bone-chilling and incredible to witness.

Despite the basics of the plot, Eggers makes sure that The Northman is not your everyday revenge film.

There’s twists and turns and surprises that will keep viewers completely captivated, not to mention it’s a visual feast for the eyes.

An original film like this deserves to be seen by as many people as possible – it’s 100 per cent worth the watch.

The Northman is currently showing in theatres.