Robert Eggers emerged as one of the most interesting directors today in his first feature films, The Witch (2015) and The Lighthouse (2019), two acclaimed horror productions that show the director with his own signature in the genre. For his next project, Eggers decided to challenge himself as a filmmaker and escape his comfort zone in horror by embarking on the man of the north (2022), starring Alexander Skarsgård and Anya Taylor-Joy, is an ambitious action-adventure film with the promise of making the most accurate Viking film ever.
What is the story of The Man in the North?
The Northman follows a story of revenge and madness of a prince. Set at the height of Landnámsöld, in the year 914, Prince Amleth (Oscar Novak) is about to come of age and take the place of his father, King Horvendill (Ethan Hawke), who ends up being brutally murdered. Amelth eventually discovers that his uncle is the culprit, but still kidnaps Amleth’s mother first, Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman). The boy then swears that one day he would return to avenge his father and kill his uncle.
Twenty years later, now grown Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård), a Viking man who survives plundering Slavic villages, meets a fortune teller. She in turn reminds him that the time has come to fulfill the promise he made a long time ago: to save his mother, kill his uncle and avenge his father. He then sets out on an odyssey in search of his uncle to finally complete his journey of revenge.
The screenplay for The Man in the North, written by Robert Eggers and Sjón, was based primarily on the legend of Amleth, written by the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus, known as the direct inspiration for the creation of William Shakespeare’s classic play Hamlet. In this way, the film focuses on a saga very typical of the Old Norse, highlighted by family drama and, of course, a revenge story.
The Northman authentically recreates a Viking saga
Even though it is his first major production to date, which cost between 70 and 90 million dollars, Robert Eggers does not lose his style or limits his signature on The Man in the North, using this budget to recreate a Viking historical past in a authentic and ambitious.
Eggers’ previous films, The Witch and The Lighthouse, showed his characteristics of working with historical narratives always with attention to detail and a lot of research, but he reaches another level in his new film in relation to research work and historical fidelity, which made the director practically become an expert on the subject. The script writing process involved the participation of historians and archaeologists specializing in Viking culture, to recreate materials, scenarios and customs.
As a result of this creative process, The Northern Man is a true visual spectacle, largely because of the creation of an epic, but at the same time, oppressive, setting and atmosphere – which is reinforced by the cinematography of Jarin Blaschke, who worked with Eggers. in his two previous films, and stands out for the composition of natural and intimidating environments. In this way, the director manages to hold the audience with discomfort, a characteristic he brought from his experience in horror.
A story of revenge and brutality that flirts with mysticism
In addition to authenticity, what makes The North Man go far beyond a simple revenge story, like many we follow in the cinema, is Robert Eggers’ control in the direction and his brand of authorship – which, of course, stands out even more. more when he’s one of the screenwriters. Immersed in a Nordic culture perfectly recreated in visual aspects and customs, Eggers takes the opportunity to establish a kind of study about humanity, especially its cycle of perpetuation of violence.
As the protagonist, Alexander Skarsgård is the highlight of the film playing the adult version of Amleth. The actor perfectly manages to convey the feeling of hatred internalized by the character because of the events of his childhood that put him on his vengeful journey, as well as the physicality that externalizes these violent desires and proves necessary for the intense action scenes of the production.
Being a Viking epic, the director recreates the fight scenes with the brutality and savagery necessary for their immediate impact, which are filmed in sequence, which requires a strong choreography work. Although Eggers has never filmed action scenes of this magnitude, expect elaborate moments that show the impact of each of the blows thrown.
Anya Taylor-Joy is one of today’s most sought-after actresses and began her acting career working with Robert Eggers in The Witch. Resuming the partnership with the director, her character, Olga, appears as the romantic element of the plot and, even though she is not the protagonist of the production, she steals the scene with a magnetism necessary for the mystical elements of The North Man, as well as the characters played by Willem Dafoe and Björk. In these moments, the director puts brutality aside and embraces mystical cultural views and beliefs in the occult, with more disorienting scenes.
Is The Man in the North worth watching?
the man of the north is Robert Eggers’ most ambitious project, which is significant when we consider his work on The Witch and The Lighthouse. The film has brutal and violent scenes in the revenge narrative, but stands out for its authenticity and fidelity in the impressive and detailed recreation of the Vikings’ visuals and customs, presenting an immersive epic and, above all, not losing its authorial vision.
Even so, the film may displease some people who are looking for a more conventional action epic because of its slow development, where the setting rich in details and, of course, intimate and oppressive prevails – but without forgetting the impactful scenes. and brutal combat. Robert Eggers fans can expect a very different work from his previous ones, but with the same appreciation in the direction and in the creation of details that make up the narrative.