The Northman Review: Viking Tale is a True Cinematic Epic!

Norse Mythology is alive and well in the 21st century. The legends of Vikings seem to be a concept that many have adapted to this day, and this is only evident in the realm of pop culture with the likes of Vikings being a hit show as well as the god of thunder Thor playing a prominent role in both comics and the big screen. With Nordic culture having such an impact it was not surprising that a movie surrounding this concept would be made, and sure enough a new legend has come in the form of a movie by Robert Eggers: The Northman.

The Northman depicts the tale of Amleth (Alexander Skarsgard) who seeks revenge on his uncle Fjolnir (Claes Bang) after he killed his father (Ethan Hawke) and took over his kingdom. The story of how The Northman came to be is an interesting story to say the least. Apparently, Alexander has wanted to make a Viking Epic for some time now and this movie would finally come into fruition after Robert entered the project and developed the story with his brother Sjon. Once Focus Features obtained the rights, the movie was off the ground and slated for a spring release. Judging by the trailer, The Northman looked promising (especially from a visual standpoint) and from what I heard about the movie I was curious to see just how authentic it would be to its Norse roots. While I cannot determine its authenticity, I can say that The Northman is a true cinematic experience.

The Northman sets out to do two things: tell its tale of revenge and showcase Nordic culture. In the case of being a revenge story, the plot was captivating. Some of the plot's direction, such as Amleth not reclaiming his kingdom, was surprising while other plot points played out as expected; though the attention to detail in these points made all the difference in the world. In the case of themes and concepts, the movie showcases the Nordic Culture in a compelling manner that gave this tale a sense of style. While I would not consider this film a fantasy epic, there were some supernatural aspects to this tale. The use of the Valkyrie and Odin was interesting as it gave the plot an artistic flare that did not detract from the movie’s main concept.

Along with a stoic story was a mighty cast fitting of any film. Alexander Skarsgaard was nothing short of impressive as Amleth with his raw performance as the vengeful Northman being one of the actor’s best. Along with Skarsgaard was Anya Taylor-Joy as the sorceress Olga who had a natural chemistry with Skarsgaard’s Amleth. In the case of the villain, Claes Bang was impressive as Fjolnir. While he may not have been the most complex of antagonists, there was more to this lord than expected which was thanks Bang’s stellar performance. Along with solid principal characters, the cast also featured an impressive array of supporting players. Nicole Kidman was terrific as Queen Gudurn while Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe were fantastic in their roles-even if they were brief.

When it came to presentation, The Northman was a true cinematic wonder. From the camerawork to its overall look, the cinematography was keen in all aspects and really captured the feel of a Nordic legend. When it came to things like action and gore, this film was more laxed then I expected-though this is not to say the film did not have its brutal moments. Rounding things out for the film was the music by Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough. To say the score was thematic may be an understatement as its use of drums and vocals gave the film a fitting atmosphere that arguably created the perfect Viking experience.

The Northman lived up to its legend. The movie tells a captivating story while expressing a sense of style, and it features a cast worthy of any feature presentation. Along with stellar cinematography and a thematic soundtrack, The Northman was a one of a kind movie that not only captures the essence of a Viking epic, but is easily one of the best films of the year.

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