The Northmaneither The Northman, the name by which we had known and eagerly awaited since its production was announced. the last movie of Robert Eggers, or rather, the latest work of art, because this young director, for now, is infallible. A career start within the reach of very, very, very few in the history of cinema, at the moment it is full, 3 out of 3… When are you going to release the next Bob?
The Northman It’s a revenge movie. The young Viking prince Amleth (oscar novak) witnesses his father’s death at the hands of his uncle Fjölnir (claes bang) and the inauguration as wife of her mother, Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman), by himself. Amleth manages to escape and, from that moment, grows with a single purpose that he constantly repeats, as if it were a mantra… «I will avenge you father. I will save you mother. I will kill you Fjölnir.»
Documentation, Filming and Postproduction
Robert Eggers he accepted the opportunity to make a big studio movie. They gave him 90 million for it. It was the first time he knew that he wasn’t going to have full control of his work, but he still agreed. Otherwise it would be unthinkable, at least for now, that an authorial director of his characteristics and background could carry out a work of such magnitude. The admirers of Eggers We harbored serious doubts that he could carry out this mission successfully and, at the same time, that the final product would have his characteristic and unmistakable stamp. When in an interview, the Eggers stated that the editing and post-production process had been the most painful moment of his lifeAll the alarms went off. We were wrong from beginning to end. The Northman it’s marvelous.
Eggers he had to go out to qualify his words, or rather to make an addition. Although he confirmed his previous statements, he explained that the shooting was totally his, without interference and that all subsequent decisions were also validated by himself. Although there was a constant fight with the production company, they made several cuts, and according to him, finally, a better film came out than the one he would have put together without those interferences. According to him, he needed the pressure from the studio to make the most entertaining version of the film. And this is really palpable, the film has a great rhythm, and at the same time, you can see the hand of Eggers in every instant. She is a technical prodigy, beautiful and gloomy, brutal, bloody and epic.
The Northman is shot with a single camera and without what is called ‘pick ups‘, meaning there weren’t any added small after-the-fact shots that are common when shooting big battle action scenes. This is a huge complication, since you have to repeat the shots many times until they come out totally perfect. The shoot was a real hell. Many scenes had to be shot in very cold and rain, scenes in icy waters and had to be repeated over and over again. Eggers comments in an interview that part of the energetic performance of Alexander Skarsgard it’s just because he really wanted to wring her neck.
Trying to have the maximum historical rigor is one of the main characteristics of this filmmaker. He is a huge data geek, an intellectual who delves into the real history of the times he deals with in his films. there is nothing in The Northman that it could not have been so in the Viking Age. This does not mean that all aspects are accepted and contrasted by historians, since many customs and peculiarities of that period are unknown to us. Most of it is based, in addition to irrefutable archaeological evidence found, in writings called ‘Norse Sagas or Eddas‘. These mythological stories were transmitted orally, and it was not until about 200 years later that some scholars of the time began to transcribe them. This implies that these writings may not be as reliable as they could be if they had been written at the time. It seems that the Vikings were not very writing.
The film also has some clear references. the winks to Conan the Barbarian (1982) They are the most obvious and recognizable. Eggers noted in interviews that “This is me trying to make Conan the Barbarian through Andrei Rublev«. Thus, we have the two key cinematographic references of this film. But there is also the work of shakespeare. Although Eggers has tried to make a film based on the true story on which the medieval writer also based himself, the Shakespearean aroma is breathed on all four sides, without being another Hamlet film not much less. Something similar to what the teacher did kurosawa with his Throne of Blood (1957).
The Man of the North: Opinion and Sensations
When you sit in your cinema seat and feel almost constant tingling at what is shown on the screen, you know that you are facing something very big. When you hear the whining of the people sitting around you, you turn and see them squirm in their seats, the feeling of happiness invades you. I love seeing those visceral reactions in a room. I have had them myself, not in this film, since I am practically immune to brutal, violent or gory scenes. The last two times it happened to me was with Climax (2018, Gaspar Noah) Y Hereditary (2018, Ari Aster).
The film, as I said before, has a good pace at all times. The most dreamlike scenes represented in it are accompanied by a tremendous beauty and color that make them accessible and do not exceed in length, so they are not heavy at all. Eggers manages to make a great film, studio, but auteur. He breathes his cinema on all four sides.
The Northman any other previous work of vikings is passed by stone, and I say this loving the Conan from John Milius and the Valhalla Rising from Nicolas Winding Refn. always talk about The Vikings (1958) as another of the great exponents of this theme, but I have to say that it is a film that has aged very badly, the passage of time has wreaked havoc and the completely shaven face of the Viking played by Kirk Douglas It practically makes me a meme.
The actors are all spectacular. The chosen cast was not for less. I am an unconditional fan of Anya Taylor-Joy from The Witch (2015, Robert Eggers) and, although it is spectacular as always, I have to admit that it is not capable of stealing a single scene from the powerful Alexander Skarsgard. What a physical and interpretive portent. In the action scenes, the brutality he exhibits is unparalleled. When he has to keep a low profile, he is equally empathetic, making it clear that Eggers is a magnificent director of actors, since Alexander he is always at the right point of his character.
The only person capable of outshining and stealing a single scene from the giant Skarsgård it is Nicole Kidman. She is a Goddess, we all know that. That angelic and solemn appearance that she maintains in the background contrasts dramatically when she begins to declaim any of the lines that correspond to her. She owns the screen like no other does. I don’t think it’s necessary to name the scene I’m referring to, but it’s easily the best and most impressive of the movie and she comes out, it seems that they have put 3D effects on her, it almost seems that you can touch her, but no, she is a Goddess We humble mortals are not allowed to do that.
I will leave a written complaint. Willem Dafoe It has very little screen share. It is inadmissible. If there is another God acting this movie it is him. Even if a whole hour came out in the total footage, it would seem little to me, but this fact that we can only enjoy it for a few measly minutes, makes me hate you a little Bob, but only a little. I do not know if you have seen this gentleman recite while he gobbles up earth in The Lighthouse (2019), but it is something heavenly, it is not forgotten. I will exclusively say, to avoid spoilers, that in The Northman he acts without being, his presence, without being, is divine, thus, we understand that God is omnipresent.
björk fair comes out too. Bad very bad. Tremendous characterization of the character who acts as a blind prophesy of destiny. Curious and necessary aside, her daughter, Doa, also plays a small role in the film. She is the enslaved woman who sings with another slave around the fire. Ethan Hawke totally correct, with an impeccable solemnity and the consolation prize for a magnificent claes bangvery muscular, that in any other film would have taken the main prize, but not in this one, confronted against the beast Skarsgård.
Maybe, when I watch the movie at home again, probably a couple of times in a row and another time stopping each frame, I’ll decide to do a more detailed analysis. And it is that above all I still pending is the work of pictorial research and artistic allusions that good old Eggers will have put everywhere. But we are going to finish now, although I feel that I left many things in the pipeline. I have to make the point that it’s not just a revenge movie. The Man of the North deals with goodness, death, hope and the most powerful force that can change everything, even the most pressing desires, love.