"The Northman" focuses on the artistic side and ignores the characters

“The Northman” focuses on the artistic side and ignores the characters

A sky strewn with green, yellow or red stripes, and a volcano pouring lava over fields where cattle graze… A view that you may only find in Iceland, the island in the far north of the globe.

There is no place in the world like Iceland, and it inspires filmmakers who choose it as a location for historical epics or science fiction films. Iceland was the scene of Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” epic in 2014, and the movie Oblivion starring Tom Cruise in 2013, and “Thor,” and the epic series The famous “Game of Thrones”. The reason is that Iceland has a nature that looks like it is from another planet.

The Northman, by Robert Eggers, a director to his credit: The Witch, and The Lighthouse, 2015 and 2019.

The film is about a story of revenge from the tenth century during the Viking invasions. The history-obsessed Eggers wrote the text in collaboration with the Icelandic novelist and poet Schoen, and the text draws inspiration from Icelandic folklore as well as Scandinavian heritage from the story of William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet.

simple story

“The Northman” is Eggers’ first attempt to enter the field of studio films and mass distribution, as the previous two films were independent and of limited distribution. Even in terms of budget, his two previous films had a combined budget of $15 million, while “The Northman” had a budget of $90 million.

The story is very simple: Prince Amelith (in the English name if we take the last letter and make it the first will be the name Hamlet), and he embodies him as a boy Oscar Novak, welcomes his father, the Viking King Orvandel (Ethan Hawke), who comes from battle, and the boy prepares to rule the tribe after his father.

The king and his son confront the king’s half-brother Fulner (Clais Pang), so Fulner betrays and kills the king, and tries to kill Amelith, but the latter escapes, repeating the following words: “I will avenge you, Dad, I will save you, my mother, I will kill you, Fulner.”

These words closest to a hymn are the whole story of the movie. The years pass and the boy grows up (embodied by the Swedish Alexander Skarsgard), grows stronger and becomes a valiant fighter, and returns to avenge his uncle who captured his mother Gudrun (Nicole Kidman) and took her for himself.

emotional impact

Eggers is a unique artist, his ideas are powerful and distinctive, and he knows exactly how to write them, embody them, and set their rhythm. Despite all that the film contains of a renewed vision of a classic story, Eggers was not as successful as was the case in his previous film “The Lighthouse”, which we wrote about in this space in January 2020.

The film borrows some elements from two films, The Revenant and Gladiator, and is technically closer to the first. During the 137 minutes that make up the film, Amelith manages to avenge his father’s death, save his mother, and confront his uncle; But it all happens without any emotional impact.

Emotional influence is essential in this type of revenge story, because it helps the viewer understand the hero’s motives, but Eggers does not pay attention to this point, knowing that this element – that is, emotions – is present in even the dullest films of this genre.

Eggers is very busy creating the atmosphere of the film, and is primarily a movie set designer, interested in making the atmosphere as exotic as possible by introducing elements of magic, fantasy and folk myths, and the entire film showcases the abilities and skills of the director at the expense of his characters.

The film failed badly in the American box office, and its revenues stopped at 68 million dollars, like the movie The Last Duel by Ridley Scott, and the funny thing is that the two films are of the same quality: historical epics, or what is called in English “sword and sandal” films.

At the time, Scott stated that the failure of his film was caused by “the teenage audience who refuses to receive any information if it is not through a smartphone!”. That is, teenagers discover films through certain channels that they follow on “Social Media”.

Reasons for failure There are many reasons for the failure of “The Northman”, the first of which is the lack of audience for big budget films with an artistic orientation. Secondly, and this is a theory that is starting to become more clear these days and says that if television mastered making a series of a certain quality, that quality would leave the cinema and move to television, and this is exactly the case of the “Game of Thrones” series, which is of the type of historical/fantasy epics, which brought about a cultural revolution during The past decade, millions of people around the world watched it.

And when several attempts were made to make historical epic films similar to the atmosphere of that series, they all failed at the box office without exception, even if they were filled with first-class movie stars and a legendary director like Ridley Scott. “The audience for this kind of movie is at home, not in the cinema,” said Ben Affleck, who appeared under Scott’s “The Last Deol”, more clearly.

The third reason for the failure of the movie “The Northman” was that its marketing campaign made serious mistakes, the most famous of which was placing the movie posters in New York subway stations without the posters containing the title of the movie! This is despite the fact that the cost of the marketing campaign took a large part of the film’s budget.

Unmasked hero

The performance and lack of surprise is what hurt “The Northman,” and it’s exactly what made “The Lighthouse” a classic.

The biggest problem with “The Northman” is his unconvincing hero, because he does not have “charisma”. Alexander is the son of

Sweden’s first star, Stellan Skarsgård, is one of the handsome young Swedish movie stars, but he can’t

He carries a film of this size on his shoulders, and despite his muscular muscles on the screen there is a clear emptiness in his eyes.

• 137 minutes, the duration of the movie, whose revenues stopped at 68 million dollars in America.

• There are many reasons for the failure of “The Northman,” the first of which is the lack of an audience for big budget films with an artistic orientation.

Despite all that the film contains of a renewed vision of a classic story, Eggers was not as successful as was the case in his previous movie “The Lighthouse”.

• There is no place in the world quite like Iceland, inspiring filmmakers who choose it as a location for their historical epics or science fiction.

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