Robert Eggers’ ‘The Northman’: A Beautiful, Brutal Epic

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer

Plot: From visionary director Robert Eggers comes The Northman, an action-filled epic that follows a young Viking prince on his quest to avenge his father’s murder.

Review: Robert Eggers burst on to the screen with the divisive but excellently executed supernatural tale of isolation and paranoia, The Witch followed by The Lighthouse. This time he explores the rich sagas of a violent era in The Northman.

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Every civilisation has its own history and mythology but one of the most fascinating has to be that of the Norse, most commonly referred to as Vikings. It’s a tale that’s familiar, no matter the timeline, but one that’s most fantastically told through the lens of sword and sorcery.

In The Northman a young prince named Amleth is forced to go on the run when his traitorous uncle Fjolnir betrays his father and murders him to become king, while also stealing his brother’s wife as his own. Remembering the words of his father, the prince escapes with the vow to avenge his father, save his mother and send his uncle to Hel.

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If you’ve seen Egger’s work you know the man is a stickler for detail. The Northman is both beautiful and brutal, depicting not just the harsh realities of that era but also the deep beliefs the Norse had in their gods and the importance of honour and fulfilling one’s destiny.

Arguably his best role to date, Alexander Skarsgård totally immerses himself into this role, add to that his physical appearance (the last time I’ve seen him so ripped was in Tarzan) and fans of films like Conan or shows like Vikings and The Last Kingdom will see how well he fits into this world. An early action sequence sees a band of Viking berserkers rampage and pillage through a village in one beautiful flawless tracking shot that demands you never turn away. Anna Taylor-Joy, previously seen in The Witch, returns here as Olga who also seeks revenge against Fjolnir. And Nicole Kidman teams up once again with Skarsgård (Big Little Lies), this time playing his mother. While her role isn’t as large here, she captivates in every scene she’s in.

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The Northman is arguably Egger’s most accessible film so far while still showing his flair for visual symbolism. While The Witch and The Lighthouse are considered more cerebral, The Northman is the kind of epic saga of a man seeking vengeance and honour that most general audiences can enjoy. That doesn’t mean the movie isn’t nuanced though, with themes that explore the futility of revenge and the dangers of blind ambition.

The final act does feel a bit bloated and a tad anticlimactic considering the build-up that came before. But overall, The Northman is further proof that Robert Eggers’ movies will always be worth checking out.

Sommer’s Score: 7.5 out of 10

Have you checked out The Northman? What did you think of it? And you can pillage some more Eggers-related content below:


2755F829-2EEC-4A68-B6F7-F963F48C9D92 Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.

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