The Northman

The Northman ★★★★

Robert Eggers makes beautiful, aesthetically rigorous films that sometimes deliver more. I love "The Witch". I don't love "The Lighthouse". The difference is that "The Witch" is a rigorous recreation of a particular kind of puritan existence that ultimately has something important to say about puritanism. "The Lighthouse" is an ultimately empty aesthetic exercise that seems to promise more without delivering it. This film falls between these two.

This adaptation of the Scandinavian folktale that's best known as the inspiration for "Hamlet" is another rigorous recreation of the world it's set in, and as such, it strips the story down to it's barest elements. It's all violence, rage, blood and nudity, and it's immensely entertaining if this is your thing (and it's my thing). It's also really beautiful and exquisite in a way that these kinds of films rarely are, so it's the rare exercise in brutality that I could easily recommend to those who aren't necessarily comfortable with screen violence. The only reason that it falls a bit short for me is that I'm not sure that there's much here beyond another telling of a familiar story.

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