I can’t get enough of Hamlet, but I wish it had more Viking flair. Would you rather the Lion King lions were replaced by big-haired men? Robert Eggers’ “The Northman”, might be the right movie for you.
Robert Egger’s third feature film, The Northman, is his third. The positive reviews for “The Witch” (the first) and “The Lighthouse,” (the second), were met with great enthusiasm. The latter was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Northman currently sits at 89% on Rotten Tomatoes. Many reviews praise its stunning visuals, historical accuracy, and action-packed battlefield scenes.
The story centers on Viking prince Amleth (Oscar Novak as a boy, Alexander Skarsgard later on), who is on a quest to exact revenge against his uncle Fjolnir, (Claes Bang). Amleth, a young boy, witnessed Fjolnir murder his father (Ethan Hawke), and kidnap his mother (Nicole Kidman). Amleth embarks on a wild rampage through Eastern Europe, losing his way and forgetting his vow of revenge for his father. Amleth is able to find his way to his uncle’s farm by using the assistance of Olga, a captured sorceress (Anya Taylor Joy), and the transcendent Seeress Bjork. We’ll let you know what happens between them.
With a $90 million budget, Eggers does everything that Eggers films are known for. The dark skies, the old English, and animal messengers are all present, as well as Taylor-Joy’s appearance as a witch-like character. Eggers uses a specific formula for his films but each feature is unique. Northman’s 10-century Iceland time period provides the backdrop for one of the earliest versions of the Hamlet storyline. Shakespeare’s tragedy is influenced by the Scandanavian legend that Amleth was a witch (hint: put the “h” in front).
Eggers also hired Sjon, an Icelandic poet and novelist, to help him with this film. They worked together on the script and achieved remarkable results in historical accuracy and tone. The friendship between Sjon and Bjork, the legendary Bjork, was the catalyst for their partnership. This film marks her first since 2000’s “Dancer in the Dark”.
Although Eggers is a star in a great Hollywood movie it looks like it will be a financial disappointment. Many people are calling the movie an arthouse film with a large budget, which is a paradox. However, it doesn’t look good for Universal’s Focus Features. It has so far collected $23.5 million worldwide. Robert Pattinson’s casting Lighthouse, which had an $11 million budget and generated approximately $18 million globally, was an example.
Eggers’ track record shows that his style and subject matter will not change much despite financial success. Although his films are well-received by critics, it may make some studios nervous about approving further projects. We may be witnessing doubtful results as a result of what we know about his Nosferatu project’s troubled development.