A classic in the making

The Northman (15, 137 Minutes)

Blood dictates fate in Robert Eggars’ brutal story of revenge, which acts as both a disturbing history lesson and a campfire tale of Norse mythology. Axes, swords and gore galore. A strange departure from Eggars’ small back catalog of work, and yet The Northman keeps you on your toes from start to finish.

Lesser known is the intriguing backstory of this tale, which fondly inspired Shakespeare to write Hamlet.

The year is 895 AD. The Viking King Aurvandill (Ethan Hawke) is slain by his treacherous brother, Fjölnir (the exceptional Claes Bang). The King’s son, Prince Amleth, is able to escape the bloody coup and, years into exile, grows into a bloodthirsty warrior (Alexander Skarsgård) wishing to take up arms against his uncle, obsessed with liberating his holier than thou mother (Nicole Kidman).

If you thought Game of Thrones was violent, you’ll need a strong scotch before you view The Northman. Eggars is a brilliant, daring director unafraid to take the very risks you’d expect in a twisty turner (J.K Rowling take note!).

Does a protagonist have to be a hero? That’s at the very core of this tale. We are dependent on Amleth winning against all the odds, but at what cost? Terrible things occur in a terrible time, where violence is a form of language. Rules don’t apply. Diplomacy is non-existent. This is a world of gods and monsters, where it’s hard to tell the difference between man and beast.

For fans of the bard’s work, this also extends to be a really interesting interpretation of where Hamlet’s mummy issues come from. Don’t look so confused, you know what I’m talking about.

I’m sure when Robert Eggars’ pitched this idea to the studios, they questioned whether it be possible to make a surreal viking horror film. Someone had a bit of faith, and rightly gave it a green light.

This will, in years to come, become the subject of film theory and study. A soon-to-be classic.

RATING: 9/10