‘The Northman’ – Amleth the Barbarian

Watching ‘The Northman’ it was impossible for me not to think of Mel Gibson and ‘The Green Knight’. In the first, because he has spent his whole life wanting to make a Viking film as far removed from any romantic stereotype as possible (which automatically leads us to think of ‘The Passion of the Christ’); and in the second, because Robert Eggers’ film shares the same spirit as David Lowery’s, being both allegories with mystical contours that submerge in the shadows of a legend that they strip of its glamor with sordid vehemence. I thought of Mel Gibson, and I thought of ‘The Green Knight’. But I also thought of Marcus Nispel’s ‘The Guide to the Gorge’ or Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘Valhalla Rising’ for more than obvious reasons. In these two films, as in ‘The Northman’, the word almost ends up being a hindrance. Or a ballast. Films, or rather eminently visual, plastic and visceral works that do not shine for their hieratic script or for their stiff performances. Although they try, in vain, to conform to the conventionality of a more or less standard narrative. Behind ‘El hombre del norte’ we sense that eternal conflict between author and employee that gives us, in practice, the best of both worlds: A kind of author’s product that, unlike those two opposite poles called ‘The guide del desfiladero’ and ‘Valhalla Rising’, it works almost equally in both aspects. Or as if he did. Much more accessible than ‘The Witch’ and ‘The Lighthouse’ even though it is consistent with both, and at the same time, much more forceful than any of those blockbusters commissioned by AliExpress without pride, country or personality. He was talking about ‘The Green Knight’, or Mel Gibson (and the violent rawness of ‘The Passion of the Christ’ or ‘Apocalypto’). ‘The man from the North’ is an experience rather than a film that, as in ‘Midsommar’, is not so much what counts as how it is told. A sort of western starring a friend from Conan who achieves, in short, what he sets out to do: immerse us for just over two hours in his world. A dirty and violent world, implacable and merciless that turns what could well have been a romantic legend into a macabre tale. Revenge, the classic leitmotif in this case taken to the limit of madness. It is evident that Robert Eggers tends towards the same neighborhood as Panos Cosmatos, where visual imagery is a black hole for any script, and that the more than 60 million he has needed to film ‘The man from the north’ have forced him to throw the brake. Perhaps, for that very reason, it is a pleasure as it is: Because he forces her to redirect his talent towards something other than licking his own balls. And out of that battle comes this intense modern classic that sticks in your throat.

By Juan Pairet Iglesias

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