The Northman (2022): A Hero’s Journey Collides with Robert Eggers’s Insane Personality

“The Northman” is directed by Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse, The Witch) and stars Alexander Skarsgård (The Legend of Tarzan, Big Little Lies), Nicole Kidman (Being the Ricardos, Bombshell), Claes Bang (The Burnt Orange Heresy, The Girl in the Spider’s Web), Anya Taylor-Joy (Emma., The Queen’s Gambit), Ethan Hawke (Moon Knight, First Reformed), Björk, and Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, Platoon). This film is about Prince Amleth, who loses his father and sees his mother get captured at a young age. Holding an infinite desire to avenge his father and save his mother, Amleth joins a band of Vikings, who raise him as a berserker.

PARK CITY, UT – JANUARY 26: Director/writer Robert Eggers of “The Witch” poses for a portrait at the Village at the Lift Presented by McDonald’s McCafe during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2015 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Robert Eggers is a filmmaker I do not traditionally think about all that much, but I have grown to respect him. If anything, I think my experience with Robert Eggers is equal to my experience with Ari Aster, who released “Hereditary” in 2018, and followed it up with “Midsommar” in 2019. Well, specifically, I mean this in reverse. Because the first movie I saw from Eggers was “The Witch,” which despite its quirky shots and angles, and non-traditional aspect ratio, left me feeling icky to the point where I hated myself for watching it. The next movie I saw from him, which if for some reason if you are still on the Robert Pattinson hate train, I recommend you watch, is “The Lighthouse.” That movie ended up being one of the most wonderfully weird films I have watched… Probably ever. Looking back, it kind of makes me want to invite a bro or two to my place, bring out some drinks, and dance to some old timey songs like maniacs.

Seriously, if “dope” had a current dictionary definition, they should literally implement this scene into it.

But with that said, I think it is important to note that my feelings regarding “The Northman” going into it were rather positive. I was gonna go see “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once,” but due to a conflict regarding someone I planned to see it with, it did not look like such a thing would work out. So I decided to use what free time I had and go see this movie instead.

It was… Interesting.

I feel like one of the best and worst things about films made by directors like Robert Eggers is that you probably don’t know all of what you’re going to get. But it doesn’t mean that Eggers’s quirkiness can always potentially sacrifice good storytelling. In fact, my first notable positive of the film is that the first act has pretty much everything I could want out of a movie like this. It properly sets up the world, solidly introduces some of the characters, including our main protagonist, has surprisingly halfway decent toilet humor, and even a menacingly intriguing presence from Willem Dafoe. The more I think about Willem Dafoe, the more I admire him as a performer. He practically commits to just about anything he chooses to do. I would love to see a role of his where he’s just sitting on the couch, watching television, and I am sure he’d still have the potential to be recognized during awards season. His role in the movie is not a big one, but it is one that I am sure if you saw it, you definitely won’t forget it. Unfortunately, I probably have forgotten about some of this movie. Partially because it has been a few weeks since I have seen it, but if you take out all of the weirdness of the film, some of the traits that are taken from other, perhaps better stories become more noticeable. And it would be fine if the rest of the movie kept my interest, but I will be real with you, I was checking the time to find out when the heck this thing was going to end.

I did not hate this film as much as “The Witch,” but I certainly did not adore it as much as “The Lighthouse.”

This is the biggest feature Eggers has done yet. Between a full-scale adventure that spans from land to water to the large cast, this movie ain’t small. Like, take the cast of “The Lighthouse” and multiply it by 25 or something. And I think the cast overall did a really good job. Alexander Skarsgård is incredibly convincing is a brooding, gritty main hero who wants nothing more than to avenge his father’s death. And I should not be surprised considering how he played Tarzan in the past in, coincidentally, another movie I maybe do not plan to watch again anytime soon despite liking when I saw it.

Nicole Kidman also gives one of the best performances in the film, delivering convincing line after convincing line, she is a true chameleon. I will also point out her look for this film. It blends in perfectly with the time period this movie is going for.

I would also like to give a mention to Anya Taylor-Joy because in addition to her well-executed performance as Olga of the Birch Forest, this movie seems to show that Eggers is bringing in his favorite co-workers from the past, either that, or actors really like working with him. Perhaps both ideas click here. We’ve seen Eggers bring back Willem Dafoe for a small role, Anya Taylor-Joy was also directed by Eggers in “The Witch.” When I think of actor/director relationships, my mind instantly goes to Michael Caine and Christopher Nolan, or Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi, or Bill Murray and Wes Anderson. I will likely be watching more of Eggers’s work if he decides to make more movies, so I will be curious if either of these actors will become a mainstay for Eggers and continue to work together for every movie they do. It’s show business, not show friends, but sometimes business can allow you to make friends along the way.

This movie had a great start, and frankly an intriguing visual outlook to it. One of the best things about a movie or a TV show is that it make you forget where you are. I did not feel like I was watching this movie somewhere in Burlington, Massachusetts, I instead felt like I was transported to the high seas. I think this movie manages to capture a better sense of escapism compared to some others I have seen. As much as I liked “The Tender Bar,” the escapism does not feel as authentic when you remember that Long Island does not have candlepin bowling. That said, I did not hate this movie, I just wish the story and characters brought me in as much as the quirks and visuals did.

In the end, “The Northman” is a movie that is DEFINITELY not for everyone, and I honestly do not know if it was for me. And it feels odd saying that, because I like a stylistic movie. I like a movie that is different. But I also like the classic hero’s journey. But I have seen weird done better. I have seen the hero’s journey done better. I’ve seen an uncle killing their nephew’s father in front of their own eyes done better in “The Lion King!” Well, the 1994 one, the new one is a waste of time. I probably will watch this movie again at some point, I don’t know when specifically, because I think it could warrant a second viewing. Although for now, I don’t hate the movie, but I do not particularly love it either. Let’s meet near the middle in terms of the verdict and confirm that I am giving “The Northman” a 6/10. It’s a positive grade because a lot of the movie’s strengths are evident and prominent from start to finish, but it also bored me, left me slightly uninterested at times, and when it comes to the Robert Eggers library, I prefer “The Lighthouse” by a long shot. For those of you who have not watched “The Lighthouse,” it may not be your cup of tea, but much like “The Northman,” it is a movie that I think you HAVE to see at least once to find out if it really is your cup of tea.

“The Northman” is now playing in theaters and is available to buy or rent through a VOD provider of your choice.

Thanks for reading this review! If you liked this review, I have more coming soon! Be sure to stay tuned for my thoughts on “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness!” If you want to see this and more from Scene Before, follow the blog either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out the official Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Northman?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite film from Robert Eggers? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

The Lighthouse (2019): Spill the Beans! This Film Shines as Bright as a Bulb!

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“The Lighthouse” is directed by Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Tell-Tale Heart) and stars Robert Pattinson (Twilight, High Life) alongside Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, Aquaman) in a film where two men make themselves at home on an island with a lighthouse on it. This is a tale where two men basically go about their everyday lives and eventually have to deal with various happenings, including an enormous incoming storm.

Just want to let everyone know, that I went into “The Lighthouse” having seen at least one piece of marketing, but in reality, I went into the film with my mind containing perhaps as little as I am probably supposed to know. So for the sake of perhaps providing all of you, the viewers who haven’t checked out this film yet, with a proper experience, I am going to be a bit vague in this review, so bear with me here.

OK… I think we are officially getting a taste of awards season by now. We’re starting to get films like “Parasite,” which is SO GOOD by the way. Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” has been in theaters for a little while. We are coming closer to seeing films like “Ford v. Ferrari,” “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” “Knives Out,” it is legit a fine time to be a moviegoer. And keep in mind, all these movies could suck, I haven’t seen them yet, I don’t want everyone assuming that all these films are the definitions of greatness right now. But staying on this topic, let me just kick off my thoughts on “The Lighthouse” by saying it is one of the year’s most well made films. Keep in mind, this film probably won’t be for everyone, but it is competently shot, terrifically acted, finely directed, and I like the visual choice of presenting the film in both black and white, not to mention in a 4:3 aspect ratio. It sort of reminded me of last year’s “Cold War,” which I mainly admired more for its technical aspects rather than its competence as a product meant to entertain. “The Lighthouse” however, not only looks fine and dandy, but really makes me want to slap a high five to the screen in my theater’s auditorium. Is “The Lighthouse” the best movie of the year? Honestly, no. In fact, I can come up with at least 5 movies this year that I personally enjoyed more than this. In fact, I think this movie, kind of like “Joker” for some people, could end up suffering a little due to a lack of replay value. As I reflect on “The Lighthouse,” part of me is continuously thinking that once is enough. Maybe I’ll buy the Blu-ray, but it’s going to be hard to decide when to watch it again.

At the same time though, like “Joker,” the insanity this movie can provide, especially as it comes to a close, makes it worth sitting through and worth my time. It’s absolutely hypnotizing watching two men perhaps lose their s*it as they are together on an island. I also found the “tall tale” that the movie describes, about killing a seabird, rather compelling, especially considering that it leads to a brutal killing of said creature later on. In that sort of way, it makes me never want to kill a seagull. I mean, I don’t think I ever wanted to in the first place, but still… That’s even if I’m on the beach and it ends up taking all my fast food that I purchased at the snack bar. Maybe in that case I’ll give it a little slap, but I wouldn’t flat out annihilate a seagull the way that one of the movie’s characters goes about doing so. And I think one of the more interesting things about the film that I can point out is that before the seagull death moment, it’s not like the seagull is just an innocent little creature, it looks like a complete nuisance, at least to me. Perhaps an insult to seagulls everywhere. If there were a seagull version of the Donner Party incident, this one would probably be the easiest target because it is a complete jerk to everybody in sight.

Aside from “Joker,” another goto comparison I have regarding “The Lighthouse” would probably be the TV show “Seinfeld.” Maybe I didn’t think about it too much while watching the movie, and maybe some of you who have already watched the movie are looking at me and wondering if an acorn fell on my head. Yeah, “Seinfeld” would usually contain more characters in a single twenty minute episode than this movie does in its entire one hour and forty-nine minute runtime. But regardless of character count, the idea behind “Seinfeld” can easily correlate with “The Lighthouse.” I say so because “The Lighthouse” is definitely entertaining as a story. But it is also about, well, nothing.
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In that sort of way, it can be somewhat easy to tell that “The Lighthouse” is sort of a slow burn kind of picture. Again, it’s about two guys stuck on an island with a lighthouse on it in the middle of a storm. I mean, come on! And just because it is slow, does not mean it is terrible. In fact, I cannot imagine this film in terms of pacing being represented in any other way.

Robert Eggers at an event for The Lighthouse (2019)

I will also say that I am rather surprised to be appreciating this film as much as I am, because this film is directed by Robert Eggers, who also directed one of my least favorite horror flicks of the past few years.

Movie buffs, feel free to take my “Official League of Film Fanatics” card. That’s a thing I just made up, but bear with me here. But if that did exist, let me just tell you that “The Witch” may be one of the most overhyped films of the decade. I know I am not alone, but I really did not like that movie. It wasn’t scary, it was just boring and occasionally annoying. If I had to be honest, it has to be one of the worst films that A24 has ever been involved with. But one thing that is definitely true about that film, much like many others put out by A24, I was able to witness a crystal clear directorial vision. That truth manages to make itself visible in this film as well. “The Lighthouse” is interesting in terms of its vibe, because it is definitely a calm film. That’s how it appears on screen in terms of visuals (although it is interfered by crashing waves, a storm, and a black and white shots). But it is also occasionally bonkers. I could talk about some of the crazy s*it that goes down, but then I’d just be spoiling the experience for potential viewers.

Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson in The Lighthouse (2019)

In the end, “The Lighthouse” was definitely worth my time. I will say, if I sound like I am being more vague than usual in this review, it is because I feel that if you want to go see this movie, I think it is best to go in knowing as little as there is to know as possible. All I can say is, it’s good, it’s insane, and entertaining. That’s all she wrote. If any of you want to go check out “The Lighthouse” in the theater, give it a go. Not the best film of the year, but definitely worth checking out. Between the chemistry of the two leads and the atmosphere this film tends to provide, I’d say you are for something swell. I’m going to give “The Lighthouse” an 8/10. Thanks for reading this review! I just want to let everyone know that over a week ago I just saw the movie “Last Christmas.” I will have a review up for that very soon. And I am not sure what my schedule looks like, but as of now I have passes to the upcoming movie “The Good Liar.” If I get around to seeing it, I will have a review for it. But until then, we’ll just have to see what happens. Be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email to get notifications in your inbox, or for comment and like access, use a WordPress account! Stay tuned for more great content! If you also want notifications from Facebook, consider liking my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Lighthouse?” What did you think about it? Or, what is your favorite pirate movie? Let me know down below! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!