Robert Eggers He happens to be one of the new talents of American cinema, his two previous works (‘The Witch’ and ‘The Lighthouse’) left a good taste in the mouths of both viewers and critics; a personal style in the narrative and an intelligent use of photography made both indie titles a success.
Now as a media director, he tackles his first major production (90 million) with a story inspired by Icelandic folklore, but which is known to the public since Shakespeare was inspired by it to build one of his masterpieces, Hamlet.
Journey to the Viking world
Eggers, like Ridley Scott recently did in his also trip to the Middle Ages (The Last Duel), tells a dry account of a hostile world where death, honor, betrayal and the supernatural are mixed in equal parts. His approximation of Norse civilization lacks the epic veneer that the Vikings series has provided for this culture. The filmmaker presents an essay of stark power, where the protagonists dispense with any feeling that weakens them and in which authority is sustained by force and fear.
The protagonist, Amleth (Alexander Skarsgard), is the crown prince of a throne whose king, his father, is assassinated by his own brother. Thus begins a story of revenge whose first part is dominated by extreme violence.. Exiled and turned into a berserker, the young Viking appeases his hatred by looting and killing. The attack on a village in the Rus shows that Eggers also does well in action cinema and presents a Skarsgard who conveys a sense of fear and violence that crosses the screen. Not even Mad MiKkelsen (Valhalla Rising) He has managed to reach that level of ferocity, madness and cruelty that Skarsgard gives to his character.
Violence in several dimensions
after this first part of the film, which could fit well into the canons of Hollywood, the film enters a more intimate area with more primal feelings and in which Eggars and the actors move more comfortably. The explicit and visual violence is replaced by another more buried and disturbing. In this part the plot line is interrupted by scenes that reflect Viking culture with great realism, but that cut the narrative rhythm and contribute little, except for a distraction, to the tragedy that the characters are experiencing.
If the film presents certain ups and downs of rhythm and some notable mistakes in the editing, the great cast that it has manages to plug any leak that appears. a magnificent Ethan Hawke in the role of King Aurvandill he marks the start of the excellent level that they will all offer. Alexander Skarsgard does a brilliant job as a raging warrior, but he loses a few points as a tormented heir, and that’s despite the abuse of close-ups that seek to convey his feelings of devastation.
His female companion and Eggers muse, Anya Taylor-Joy, returns to get another disturbing character and full of strength in the role of slave-witch. Eggers vindicates the role of women in a society where force prevails over intelligence, but even so, it is the female characters who basically pull the strings, while reducing their male companions to beasts governed by primary impulses. . The presence of Willem Dafoe, which repeats after El Faro, is nothing more than anecdotal and Claes Bang also signs a correct job as a usurper of the throne. Special mention deserves Nicole Kidman, whose scene with SKarsgard is probably the best moment in the movie. The Australian plays in another league and shows off all her records, she also continues to maintain a magnetic presence at 54 years old.
A visual and sound experience
The Northman is a movie with a excellent photographyEggers once again entrusts Jarin Blaschke to recreate the Viking world and the Californian offers the viewer a striking visual experience. The landscapes of Iceland are of extreme natural beauty that relate very well to the feelings that the film handles. The austerity of the setting makes the story the only focus of attention, the mixture of reality and mysticism creates a particular atmosphere that makes both worlds dissolve. The same can be said of the OST by Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough whose fusion of serious and resounding sounds with traditional themes intuitively connects with the animal part of man. The whole tape gives off an aroma of verisimilitude that, although it does not need it, serves to enrich the story.
Eggers achieves a remarkable film that is well related to classics such as Aguirre or the wrath of God for the way he approaches the plot. In the man of the north there is no room for concessions, there is almost no room for feelings beyond hatred, the characters are stereotypes of the fundamental passions that move men and the director sews very well the destiny that governs the Viking traditions and their longing for Valhalla with the basic drives of men. like shakespeare, Eggers works with the original material of the soul without artifice and re-signs a remarkable work, although probably, as happened to Ridley Scott, it does not connect so well with an audience that is increasingly hypnotized by blockbusters.