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Thursday, June 9, 2022

Review: The Northman

Director: Robert Eggers

Screenplay: Robert Eggers

Year: 2022

Before we start and before anyone leaves me any comments highlighting the obvious, I want to emphasize that "The Northman" is not a horror movie and I am very aware of that. I think that after devoting myself to writing hundreds of reviews since this page began, I should have acquired the skill to at least discern what is and is not a horror movie. Now that we have passed this stage, it remains to be answered why I decided to include a review of "The Northman" in the 10th Circle and the answer is that, although in this case, he ventures elsewhere, Robert Eggers continues to be one of the most promising directors in the horror genre and it is worth following his work closely.

After offering the world what is his best work to date with "The Witch", Eggers demonstrated his talent and particular style behind the camera and in horror movies, something he repeats in "The Lighthouse" and now in his most recent work, "The Northman". Although his latest film is a Norse revenge epic, Eggers can't resist the urge to add elements of the horror genre, facilitated by the brutality and fantasy elements that distinguish this mythology.

The plot of "The Northman" follows Amleth, who while still a child witnessed his father's death at the hands of his brother in order to claim his reign. Amleth has to flee but seals his fate by swearing he will avenge his father and save his mother. Years later, Amleth finds the perpetrator of his father's death and begins his long-awaited revenge, which proves to be much more complex than he imagined.

One of my concerns about seeing Eggers involved in a high-budget Norse mythology movie with an all-star cast is that he would leave his particular style behind to make way for another superhero movie of the kind that we already have dozens of. Luckily, this is not the case and Eggers remains true to his artful, elaborate, and extreme attention-to-detail style of filmmaking. On the other hand, this meant its poor performance at the box office, even though it has received very good reviews. Simply, this is not the type of movie that grosses millions of dollars as it caters to a much smaller group of moviegoers and is not necessarily to the liking of the viewer who sees cinema only as a means of entertainment.

This new proposal from Eggers stands out for its many virtues, such as its realistic representation of the Vikings, the great work of its cast, and a plot that seems to be simple, but contains many layers. However, it is not without problems. One of the most obvious is how trying to mix mythology with reality introduces some confusing scenes or even makes no sense in the plot. Another problem is that in some sections the pace slows down quite a bit and in some parts, the story seems to be taken from an RPG game.

Robert Eggers surprises the world of cinema again with another impressive and visually polished story, this time using Norse mythology as the basis for a story of revenge. Its poor performance at the box office is not at all linked to the quality of the film and it seems to be more a problem of the type of film that the common viewer expects considering that it is a film about Vikings and Norse mythology and that many will know the trajectory and style of the director. If you've enjoyed his previous movies or if you enjoy the art-heavy, plot-heavy type of movies, “The Northman” isn't going to let you down.

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