The Northman Director Robert Eggers on the Influences Behind Viking Epic

For writer-director Robert Eggers, Focus Options’ The Northman actually started when the filmmaker and his spouse took a trip to Iceland. “It was the primary time I turned eager about outdated Norse tradition,” remembers Eggers. It was on that very same journey that Eggers met singer-songwriter Björk (who has a small function in The Northman because the mysterious Seeress). She launched the director to her frequent collaborator Sjón, the Icelandic poet, lyricist and screenwriter, who finally co-wrote the historic epic with Eggers. “The Northman was birthed on that journey,” he provides.

Starring Alexander Skarsgård, the movie is a retelling of the Scandinavian legend of Amleth (which additionally impressed William Shakespeare’s Hamlet). After witnessing the homicide of his father and kidnapping of his mom by the hands of his uncle, younger Amleth escapes his residence and vows to avenge his father. A few years later, the grownup Amleth, now a Viking warrior, embarks on his life’s mission to actual revenge on his uncle and save his mom.

The Northman naturally known as for a particular type of historic accuracy. “There have been individuals within the dwelling historical past and experimental archeology communities who labored on the movie,” says Eggers. “Individuals who, principally, develop into Vikings on the weekends.” These historic reenactors introduced their experience however have been simply as impressed with the “lived-in” re-creations of Norse villages and Viking halls.

Additionally consulted have been historic European martial arts consultants, for the movie’s complicated battle sequences and climactic duel on the crater of Hekla, a volcano generally known as “the gateway to hell” within the Center Ages. Notes Eggers, “We had two actually nice Viking swordsmen give you a preventing method that you simply haven’t seen in a movie earlier than.”

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Eggers’ spouse snapped this pic of the director throughout a 2016 trip. It was on that journey that Eggers turned invested in Norse tradition, discovering inspiration within the nation’s evocative panorama and its historical past throughout a go to to the Saga Museum in Reykjavik.


Eggers snapped this photograph of a workforce of horses when visiting Iceland. “Icelandic horses are so lovely,” says the director, who provides: “However there’s additionally the irony that they’re very small.” The diminutive animals’ stature could be noticed onscreen in distinction with actor Alexander Skarsgård’s cumbersome 6-foot-4 body. That realism was important for Eggers. He says, “It was essential to me to have Alexander’s toes type of dragging the bottom — this huge man on a small horse.”


“There are just a few unintentional nods to Conan,” says Eggers, who admits that he had a poster for the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie in his childhood bed room. However there have been tropes that he needed to keep away from in The Northman, comparable to glorified violence, machismo and feminine objectification. “It was an essential movie for me as a child, for certain,” he provides of its lasting affect on his personal work. “It was laborious to flee.”


These three nonfiction titles have been main sources for Eggers when he was researching outdated Norse tradition. He additionally notes that the authors of the books have been advisers on the movie and have been “excited to see what they’ve been imagining their complete lives come to life.”

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This story first appeared in a December stand-alone challenge of The truestarz journal. To obtain the journal, click on right here to subscribe.



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