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The Northman - Viking revenge film from Robert Eggers


Captain Kelsten
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Been to watch this afternoon & it was fantastic.

 

In terms of plot the thought which struck me most while watching was this is Shakespeare with Vikings, so I am not at all surprised to see the inspiration for the story was an Icelandic poem (saga) that Shakespeare used as the template for Hamlet.

 

4.5/5.  Would have been a 5, but I thought the main plot twist was glaringly obvious right from the first minutes of the film.

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I really really liked it but didn’t love it. Some great action set pieces, Skarsgaard was properly amazing as was Kidman, and the Eggers style worked really well within the Norse setting. 
 

But the central plot was pretty conventional and uninteresting and I kind of felt like I was watching it and thinking “oh that’s cool, this is a cool bit, I wonder how they shot that?” rather than actually being enthralled by the thing. 
 

Beautiful, incredibly well put together and acted, but missing that spark that made The Lighthouse such a special watch. 

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Just now, yakumo said:

This has me hyped after hearing its like Hamlet?. Is this true.

I’ve heard it’s the story Hamlet is supposed to be based on. Or partly anyway. 

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I watched this yesterday, and wasn't particularly enamoured of it. It looks stunning and there are some nice ideas and sequences in there, but I just found it a bit of a slog. The combination of ultra-realism, magic and fantasy, and myth-type plotting (i.e. the way that characters are motivated in ways that don't make much sense to modern audiences) was interesting, but didn't quite work for me - the protagonist waiting around to take revenge makes sense in the context of it being one of the sources for Hamlet, but his rationale - he's waiting until he can take revenge in accordance with what he believes is his fate - didn't really work in the context of the realistic setting.

 

In fact, I think that was my issue with the film - it took its time to really focus on the characters, but I didn't think the characters were ultimately all that compelling or complex. The most interesting one was the treacherous brother, who'd sacrificed everything to get the throne and then lost it immediately. He seemed interestingly conflicted, and like he'd learned a harsh lesson from his earlier avarice, but he just wasn't in the film enough. Nicole Kidman and Anya Taylor-Joy were good, but their characters were pretty thin.

 

I read an interview with Eggers where he said that one of the things he likes most about historical fiction is that we can still see ourselves in the characters. I have to say I thought the exact opposite with this film - the people in it seemed almost completely alien. The film took its time to really dwell on them, but I didn't feel that I understood them as a result. 

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On 21/12/2021 at 16:01, Benny said:

Don't even need to watch the trailer to know I'm all in for this. Eggers has a 100% hit rate for me so far.

 

Well that's a hat trick for me.

 

I rate this some Elden Rings/10

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Just to comment on a criticism mentioned above:

 

Quote

but his rationale - he's waiting until he can take revenge in accordance with what he believes is his fate - didn't really work in the context of the realistic setting.

 

Is not a particularly valid take in my opinion. It actually makes perfect sense in the context of a realistic historical setting, given the superstitions and religious practices of the time absolutely would have had people respecting the Fates and acting in accordance with those beliefs. You don't have to have literal magic happen in a movie for characters to believe in greater powers than themselves.

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