review of the real God of War

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Odin(gue)

We often forget it, but before being used to evoke segmented stories and extended universes, the term “saga” comes from medieval Iceland, and designates a story written in prose, often carried by a legendary character. This origin clearly did not escape Robert Eggers, whose cinema has, since its inception, been obsessed with a staging that examines our myths and fears the most basic (the witch, the seabed, or even the abandoned islands), now readjusted to all the sauces in pop-culture.

For the artist, whose youth in New England was inevitably nourished by the writings of one of its most famous authors (Lovecraft), there is a thirst for a return to the sources of the fantastic, as if traced the genealogy of motifs and symbols that still accompany us. Gold, The Northman is precisely centered on the question of inheritance, which it translates visually by a tree of kings where float, as in an amniotic liquid, the bodies of several generations of sovereigns and warriors.

The All-Blacks of before

There lies all the beauty of this extraordinary project, and a priori unthinkable in the current Hollywood ecosystem (remember that the film cost a whopping 90 million dollars, while it is not based on any existing franchise). Eggers shapes his Viking film having in mind this spun metaphor of transmission, and the weight of our actions. In the heart of these virgin and immaculate lands, valleys, mountains and forests which instantly provide a sensation of the sublime (very beautiful use of the panoramas offered by Ireland), what is the place of man, or more precisely of the one who is supposed to write his caption?

In a way, The Northman responds to this by the simple nature of its screenplay, which the story of the Viking Amleth, whose quest for revenge inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Following the murder of his father (Ethan Hawke) by the hand of his uncle (Claes Bang), the young prince is forced to flee, while devoting his life to his bloody return.

The Northman : Fotograf Nicole Kidman, Ethan HawkeA movie that loves meat

alexander the great

Like a romantic painter, Eggers thus has all the latitude to explore the magnificent contrasts of scales between his characters and this nature that welcomes violence. Uncompromising, he has fun with the sense of the epic supported by his conceptendorsed by this incredible battle sequence composed of three spectacular sequence shots.

By following the barbaric journey of his protagonist in this assault, the filmmaker establishes the entire project of the film, which revolves around the body ofAlexander Skarsgård, a real movie monster as fascinating as it is terrifying, whose film underlines every minute the bestiality which emerges from its look and its monolithic quickdraw.

The Northman: photo, Alexander SkarsgårdSay Alexander, what’s best in life?

The investment of the actor is undoubtedly the heart of the success of The Northmanbecause this mass of unstoppable muscles best reflects the universality of a vengeful story, which confronts the free will of a character ready to annihilate the whole world with moral dogmas that would ensure him a more radiant future.

Far from the typical mythological deconstruction of a very fashionable postmodernism, Robert Eggers’ gait is a radiant anomaly by its claimed first degree. The narrative and aesthetic purity of the film is both its greatest strength, but also its weakness, as its nature of a tale sewn with white thread may leave some spectators on the side of the road, especially after its first virtuoso half-hour. he never completely manages to transcend.

The Northman : Fotograf Anya Taylor-Joy, Alexander SkarsgårdAnya Taylor-Joy, still bewitching

Like a Ragnarök

Nevertheless, The Northman is at his best when he marries the fluidity of its archetypal structure, featuring the urgency and the need for progress as a counterpoint to the stagnation of blockbusters that are blowing in the wind. Come what may, Amleth advances towards his destiny, while the camera follows him in masterful tracking shots, which always give us the keys to their topography. Beyond this permanent legibility of the staging, we see the character fill the space, impose itself on the world and in the world, to better find its place there.

Through this embrace between Amleth’s body and the lens, Eggers deploys a carnal relationship with its subject, to the point of waking up a part of body-horror à la Cronenberg in its mythological impulses. Still just as fascinated by rituals and folklore that he approaches with papal seriousness, the filmmaker metaphorizes the transformation of man into an animal, a monstrous beast just waiting to pierce and cut through the flesh. While the camera plunges into a wound to reveal dreamlike visions, the entrails summon the deep nature of a humanity that is looking for itself, and which must go beyond the border of skin and muscles to grasp its essence.

The Northman : Photo BjörkAh yes, there is Björk too!

Behind the precision of its frames, The Northman is only a permanent quest for overflowing, that of an anger impossible to bury, and that of a mythology which has ended up flowing into other parts of history. This vision, crystal clear, is pushed to its limits by Eggers’ madly pictorially powerful finale, evoking alternately the dynamics of certain Greek statues and the nightmarish beauty of black paints by Goya.

In this macabre dance, the director of The Witch straightforwardly manages to get his entire team on board, and confirms that he is a great director of actors. If Anya Taylor-Joy manages without difficulty to gain a mystical aura with each of her appearances, impossible not to dwell on the inhabited performance of Nicole Kidman, or even on the (short) presence of Björk as a whimsical witch. All these beautiful people are in tune with this extraordinary cinema proposal, whose sublime harmony would lead us to defend it more than reason.

The Northman: French Poster

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