The Northman

The Northman ★★★★★

I want to give this a 4.75 actually but oh my god man this was phenomenal and maybe actually my favorite from Eggers. There’s been a recent trend of deconstructing these ancient stories and mythologies through modern lenses of masculinity (The Green Knight, The Last Duel) and although maybe this one does it the best, I was still kind of just reminded of those films.

This sugarcoats absolutely nothing about the time period and vikings. Savagery is absolutely rampant and Skarsgard here is an instrument of rage, vengeance and pride. I can see plenty upset that there is no one to root for here really and that “subversion of expectations” in the third act. It’s a really effective commentary of the cycle of violence. Pretty much every single character in here has “valid” motives. Although the film gives us one singular character as the protagonist, it shares enough details to humanize those that stand in his way and let the audience know that he’s not doing anything noble.

The cinematography work here is exquisite. I watched this in Dolby and it was well worth it because those black levels were pitch black. The lighting in those scenes is great and the muted color palette is similar to that of The Witch. There’s even a shot here where Anya Taylor Joy is in her costume and I was immediately given deja vu of The Witch. The score makes everything feel weighty and there’s not a triumphant theme to be heard. The action one shots are brutal and the production design definitely feel like Eggers made good use of the budget he was given here. I was absolutely enthralled by this entire experience. The foreign nature that the viking rituals take place in just immediately captivate you, no matter how bizarre they may seem.

Although The Lighthouse may be more impressive from an artistic standpoint, this is just as impressive in managing all of these huge aspects of the production and still keeping his distinct directorial vision on the project. Also I think I just preferred watching this one to that one anyway. Like I said it’s a 4.75 but I think I am going to reward it the 5 stars on here officially because my complaint isn’t even the film’s fault. What an insane last couple of months for cinema.

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