The Northman is Robert Eggers latest action-filled epic following a young Viking prince on his quest to avenge his father’s murder. It’s a familiar story with an aggressively unique presentation. Let’s consider the pros and cons of The Northman…
Pros: First and foremost, Alexander Skarsgård gives one hell of a performance! This wasn’t just a physically demanding role, but also mentally and emotionally demanding and he nails it. Secondly, the dialogue is fitting for what you might expect Vikings to sound like in 600 AD. Many conversations almost come across as poetry which is an intriguing juxtaposition against the heavy themes covered throughout. Lastly is the direction from Robert Eggers and score by Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough. Both departments work extremely well together to establish an ominous and ancient tone that will transport you to this era!
Cons: At the end of the day, there’s nothing revolutionary about the plot. It’s essentially Hamlet with Vikings, but thankfully there are a few deviations. Secondly, if you have the option, I highly recommend watching with subtitles! Although it’s easy to fill in the gaps via context, the poetic dialogue wasn’t the easiest to follow. Lastly are characters which either felt inconsistent or made baffling choices. Nicole Kidman’s character does a completely unexpected 180° by the end, while Amleth (played by Skarsgård) opts to seek vengeance as opposed to living happily ever after. Personal feelings aside, these character arcs were purposefully made and I can’t deny that they add layers to the story.
I give the Northman a B+. The unique presentation and fantastic acting is well worth your time. Robert Eggers has apparently carved out a niche for himself and I’m all here for it! Happy Watching!
“I will avenge you, father, I will save you, mother, I will kill you, Fjölnir!”