The Northman Analysis

The Northman – Review and Explanation – Movie 2022

Summary of the post

The following summary includes the list of the topics we will cover in our The Northman review.

Did you watch The Northman? – Spoiler Alert

In this post we analysed the film and therefore it contains spoilers. Make sure you have watched the movie. If not, check our movie introduction to discover the story, other curiosities and watch the trailer.

It’s always a pleasure and an honour to review such an exciting film. The Northman is a movie that can easily target some 2022 Oscars. It is because the cinematography and photography are top-notch, as well as the attention to detail regarding costume, jewellery, architecture, boats and weapons. 

But behind all of this is a visionary view of the story, the scenes, and the mysticism behind the story. We loved The Northman, but not everything is perfect. The film is missing a magic ingredient to gain our 10 out of 10. And we will tell you more in the following sections of our analysis. 

The Northman – Review and Explanation

The Northman - Movie Review, Analysis and Explanation - 2022 Movie - Post Film

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What did we learn after watching The Northman? 

Undoubtedly, The Northman is a fascinating journey into the Vikings’ culture. So, let’s break down the fascinating aspects of this legendary civilisation.  

Religion and rituals.

The figure and presence of Odin throughout the whole film are constant. The director shows us Odin in different circumstances and ways. Odin is the totem of this culture, and the several rituals we witness are essential to understand the movie. We have five ceremonies throughout the film:

  • The first one is the initiation ritual that transforms Amleth into a fearless man. He and his father enter the temple as wolves and return as humans. It’s possible because they drink the juice of knowledge, precisely like dogs or wolves do. And a prophecy is announced: Amleth must swear vengeance and live without fear. It’s also the moment when his last tears drop, and he can finally connect with the family tree of his ancient generations. 
  • The second one happens as a propitiation ritual, intending to ask Odin’s help during their upcoming battle. They dance around a fire, a symbol of purification, pretending to be wolves in need of blood. They reach almost a trance status that wants to bring them closer to the gods.
  • The third one is when Amleth discovers the existence of the sword Draugr, which can be used only during the night. Even in this situation, the director brings us a mystical status. We don’t understand if Amleth fought against the sword’s guardian or if it was just a projection of his fate. The mysticism and religious atmosphere are a constant presence during the whole story.
  • The fourth one is a ritual to wish fertility both for the earth and for the women. It’s very close to the fertility dance of the Roman, Greek and shamanic cultures. And it worked because, after this ceremony, Olga got pregnant and allowed the continuation of the Amleth dynasty. The tree of his family can still grow in the future.
  • The last ritual we witness is Thorir’s funeral. The scene delivers beauty and emotions in the tragic moment. Poetic. 

The role of the witches.

At this point, it is essential to highlight the role of witches. They are creatures close to the Gods, ready to tell you your fate but in their enigmatic words. For example, a witch tells Amleth that, at a certain point, he will need to choose between kindness for his kin or hate for his enemies. And those words are crucial and come back into our memories when Amleth leaves Olga to complete his vengeance. 

But why does Amleth abandon Olga to fulfil his revenge?

Again, the first ritual. Amleth swore to accomplish vengeance, and he did it in front of Odin’s presence. Also, the witch reminded him, as we mentioned previously. Another interesting fact is Odin supports that good causes. Do you remember when Fjölnir goes to kill his brother? At that moment, King Aurvandil says that the Fjölnir kingdom won’t last because it’s not legit and conquered with blood against Odin’s will. And the prophecy becomes a reality, as we will discover a bit later. Fjölnir won’t be king for long because he challenges the Gods with his hubris. 

Reality, mysticism and visions.

It’s fascinating how the whole film evolves among reality, mysticism and visions. We get confused and what we see often is not easy to recognise as the truth or as a religious projection. It’s like we ate that hallucinogenic mushrooms too. Another example is when a white horse, a Valkyrie, transports the wounded Amleth to a secure place. What an epic scene. But then we found out that it was Olga to save him. 

And to close this chapter, it’s interesting how Odin follows and then saves Amleth taking the shape of crows. Odin is always present because justice must triumph against the abuses of Fjölnir.

Why a Vikings wants to die in a battle?

We already knew how crucial it is for a Viking to die in a battle. But do you know why? Viking warriors aspired to die in battle so that they might reach Valhalla and fight alongside each other in the battle to end all battles. Valhalla is the heaven of warriors, where Odin is their inspiring God. So when a warrior dies in battle, a Valkyrie will collect him and transport him into Valhalla so that he can join the other glorious warriors. Fascinating, right? 

What did we like about The Northman?

The Northman is a masterpiece. Probably one of the best movies of 2022. Ultimately, we won’t be surprised to see The Northman winning some Oscars. For example, photography and cinematography are top-notch in this story. And photography is the most important quality of this film. We collected a couple of shots from the movie.

We want to highlight how carefully the director thought of any scene, its details, and the composition itself. The actors are perfect. The body transformation of Alexander Skarsgård and his performance is excellent. Nicole Kidman and Anya Taylor-Joy add beauty and talent to the scenes.

Another positive point is the attention to detail in trying to reproduce objects like in the Vikings’era. The shields are made of wood; the costumes are excellent, and the architecture, the traditions and the rituals are perfectly delivered. The desire to create a film much closer as possible to that reality is clearly visible. We watched a technically perfect movie.

Anyway, we think that it’s still missing something. Let us explain it.

What didn’t we like about The Northman?

Robert Eggers is one of the best directors. We already said how beautifully he delivered The Northman. So technically, the film is perfect. What the movie lacks, according to us, are intensity and drama. The cold personality of Amleth freezes any emotions. We understand that the Viking culture is not exactly famous for its passion or romanticism.

But in the five chapters of this story, we are missing that intensity and pace that should keep us engaged till the end. We have the drama, but we cant feel it. For this reason, we think that The Northman is technically perfect but not humanly perfect. We wanted to be more involved and feel the Amleth character’s evolution. Unfortunately, the film is missing this magic ingredient that can glue and keep together all the chapters and stories. The way the story flows during the film is the weakest part of this excellent movie.

Do you agree with us? Let us know in the comment section.

Our final rating for The Northman is:


Did you enjoy The Northman?

We hope you enjoyed the film. Let us know your opinion in the comment section. And let us suggest you a couple of great historical: Operation Mincemeat; Silverton Siege; The Last Duel.

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