By Nick DelVescovo
“The Northman,” directed by Robert Eggers, takes place in 10th-century Iceland where a young prince named Amleth vows to avenge his father if he dies in war. When his father is killed in an act to overthrow his kingdom, Amleth makes it his sole purpose to avenge his father and take retribution on the man who killed him.
“The Northman” is a great example of a movie that is excellently crafted. It packs gritty action, a heartwarming love story and compelling characters in its 137-minute runtime — and it doesn’t miss a beat. I got the chance to watch “The Northman” two times and each time I was in awe of the film’s beauty.
The first watch had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. We follow Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) as he slowly torments the killer of his father. Skarsgård perfectly portrays the blind thirst for revenge that Amleth holds. Anya Taylor-Joy portrays Olga, a slave that Amleth meets on his journey to kill the murderer of his father. Taylor-Joy gives a beautiful performance as well, which is worthy of an Oscar.
I was able to truly appreciate the masterfully crafted cinematography of “The Northman” on a second viewing. There are many sequences that feel natural and grounded but watching it again makes you think, ‘how did they possibly shoot this scene?’ Eggers has a creative visual style and a notable passion for filmmaking. The passion and craft he puts into “The Northman” makes it an excellent example of a director in their prime. This is my favorite Eggers film so far, and it makes me eager to see what he will deliver in the future.
The final aspect that put the icing on the cake for this movie was its ability to combine an incredibly grounded story with jarring hints of fantasy and mythology. There are many sequences that are heavily inspired and influenced by mythology. Yet, there are no scenes that take you out of the film for being unrealistic. Eggers does a perfect job of blending the two genres into a masterpiece of revenge and tragedy.
“The Northman” has an incredibly solid screenplay paired with stellar filmmaking, giving us a uniquely beautiful and original end result. From the epic fight sequences to the dramatic and heartwarming intimacy that “The Northman” takes us through, the film has something for everyone. I can understand why people are reluctant to see a Viking movie with the idea that it may be boring or uninteresting, but I can wholeheartedly say that “The Northman” was anything but.