The NorthmanAlex Graham
Robert Eggers’ The Northman, a retelling of the medieval Scandinavian legend of Amleth, is a masterful tribute to the Viking era. Eggers recreates the world of the Vikings with painstaking attention to detail and great respect for his subject.
Eggers does not have Right-wing sympathies. He has condemned the so-called “misappropriation” of the Vikings by White Nationalists. Yet his dogged commitment to authenticity has resulted in a film of which Joseph Goebbels would approve. It would appear that Eggers immersed himself in Viking lore and history to such an extent that he became spiritually possessed and channeled the Viking ethos in a mediumistic fashion.
The legend of Amleth, upon which Shakespeare’s Hamlet is based, is described in Gesta Danorum, a multi-volume history of Denmark written by Saxo Grammaticus around 1200. It is thought to have originated from an unattested Old Icelandic source. The earliest extant accounts of the legend in Iceland date from the seventeenth century, though a similar legend is recounted in The Saga of Hrólf Kraki.
The Northman’s account of the legend of Amleth differs substantially from Saxo’s version, though the gist of it is the same. When Amleth’s father, King Aurvandill, is murdered by his jealous half-brother, Fjölnir, young Amleth flees on a boat and declares that he will avenge his father’s death. Some years later we find him in Kievan Rus’, where he belongs to a band of berserkers. After an encounter with a seeress who predicts that he will soon exact his revenge, he stows away on a slave ship headed for Iceland, where Fjölnir lives in exile, having been overthrown by Harald I of Norway.
In Iceland, Amleth becomes Fjölnir’s slave along with a Slavic girl named Olga, with whom he falls in love. He comes into possession of a legendary sword, Draugr (“undead”), after dueling with an undead spirit. He also proves his mettle in a game of knattleikr, a contact sport played by Icelandic Vikings that resembles a bloodier, more violent version of rugby, except that players wield club-like bats.
Amleth proceeds to terrorize Fjölnir and unleashes a bloodbath on the village which culminates in a confrontation between Amleth and his own mother, now Fjölnir’s wife, that results in her death as well as that of Amleth’s half-brother. Fjölnir and Amleth agree to meet at the “Gates of Hel” (the volcano Hekla) and fight to the death.
At one point in the film, Amleth and Olga escape from Fjölnir’s farm and set sail for Orkney, where Amleth has family. When Amleth kisses a wound on her neck, he has a vision that she is pregnant with twins. Seized with the realization that Fjölnir may kill his children in revenge, he resolves to kill him and swims back to shore. As both Fjölnir and Amleth both perish beside the volcano, Amleth has a vision of his wife and children and is transported to Valhalla.
The Northman has been described as “the most accurate Viking movie ever made.” This is quite plausible. All of the artifacts and clothes in the film were based on findings from Viking burials. Particularly striking were the striking hand-carved decorations in King Aurvandill’s longhouse, which were inspired by artifacts discovered with the Oseberg ship in 1904 in Vestfold, Norway. The settlements in the film were also built from scratch.
Above all, the film captures the heroic, “thumotic” spirit of the Vikings and the primal pre-Christian spirituality at the heart of their rituals and way of life. It is more than a mere exercise in historical accuracy: Eggers depicts the inner world of the Vikings in a way I have never seen on screen.
At the beginning of the film, the berserkers perform a ritualistic war dance before going into battle to unlock their shapeshifting abilities. Known for their animalistic ferocity on the battlefield, the berserkers wore bearskins and wolf pelts representing their respective animal totems. Some modern scholars have attributed the berserkers’ fury to conditions like epilepsy, rabies, and bipolar disorder. This is absurd. Eggers, by contrast, takes the berserkers seriously and stages a trance-like ritual that awakens atavistic impulses in the viewer.
The film’s stark northern landscapes and evocative soundtrack, which features traditional instruments and vocal techniques, also contribute to its ancient feel.
In another ritual, Amleth, his father, and the King’s shamanic jester inhale a hallucinogen and recite lines from the Hávamál as Amleth is initiated into manhood. Amleth sees his royal lineage manifest before him as a tree-like structure made from human veins that pulses with life. It is the most moving image in the film. His vision of the tree returns when he kisses Olga for the last time and envisions their children. The tree’s design was apparently based on an image in a tapestry from a Viking burial in Norway.
At no point does Eggers moralize on the events depicted in the film. His portrayal of violence is refreshingly direct and matter-of-fact. As in his debut film, The Witch, his treatment of magic and the supernatural eschews ironic detachment. The supernatural is woven in with the human and is part of the fabric of ordinary life. The film occupies a pagan universe in which Christians are nothing more than a strange tribe that worships “a corpse nailed to a tree.”
Amleth’s actions are not framed in moral terms; he is simply a man of honor who is resolved to do his duty. A far cry from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, he is a taciturn blond beast ruled more by thumos than reason.
Eggers seems to think that by depicting the Vikings in an authentic, human light and rejecting pulpy caricatures he is somehow “reclaiming” them from the Right, but nothing about The Northman is remotely subversive from our point of view. If anything it conveys a deeper respect for the Vikings than portrayals of them as supermen with horned helmets. And despite Eggers’ aversion to the Viking “macho” stereotype, the film upholds traditional masculinity and contains plenty of macho heroics.
There is also not one non-white actor in the film. This is admirable proof of Eggers’ unwillingness to sacrifice authenticity in the name of distancing himself from White Nationalists.
There is nothing really feminist about the film, either, despite the mention of a prophesied “maiden-king” and a brief glimpse of a female warrior. The character of Olga is strong-willed but feminine. Her earth magic complements Amleth’s “fiery sword.” Heterosexuality is glorified as the wellspring of life. Conversely, Amleth’s mother, the Lady Macbeth-like Gudrun, embodies the darker side of the female nature.
I’m sure some critics will want to see the bloodshed surrounding Amleth’s quest as a critique of honor culture or “toxic masculinity,” but that would be an oversimplification. The film is a brutally honest depiction of the destruction wrought by blood feuds, but nevertheless pays homage to Amleth’s tragic heroism. I am reminded of Greg Johnson’s discussion of honor culture in a recent podcast. Advanced civilizations cannot exist in societies where blood feuds are commonplace, but any society drained of honor is destined to wither. Given the choice, a man whose sense of honor and duty leads to destruction is worthier of admiration than one who lacks honor entirely, which is why Amleth is a tragic hero and modern man is not.
The Northman’s implicitly Right-wing themes have not been lost on some critics. Writing for the Guardian, a critic by the name of Steve Rose quakes with fear at the thought that White Nationalists might find the film appealing and that it could incite terrorist attacks. He then breathlessly praises Marvel’s Thor movies for their diverse casts and progressive messaging. One would be forgiven for mistaking this as satire:
As well as casting Tessa Thompson, a woman of mixed African, Latino and European heritage as the ostensibly bisexual Norse warrior Valkyrie, Waititi’s film [Thor: Ragnarok] dealt with narratives of displacement, enslavement, colonialism and white-male fragility. Thor’s all-powerful hammer, Mjolnir, that beloved symbol of white supremacism, is casually disintegrated by Cate Blanchett’s Hela. She then proceeds to bring down the Norse realm of Asgard, figuratively and literally.
Rose claims that the Vikings were a multicultural society — which, as Jim Goad pointed out, is a laughably euphemistic way of saying that the Vikings conquered and enslaved other European peoples. As for “gender-bending,” female warriors were rare and effeminacy was condemned.
Eggers will have to come to grips with the fact that he will always carry the taint of White Nationalism by virtue of having made a film that appeals to us, and of being a white man who cares about historical authenticity. Perhaps he will realize that there is no way of making the Vikings palatable to the Left without grossly distorting history, and that Marvel’s Thor movies are a far greater insult to the Vikings than anything a White Nationalist would ever come up with.
It’s strange that an artsy Leftist who lives in Brooklyn has made such a Right-wing film, but that is a testament to his uncanny gift for inhabiting his subjects’ universe. The Northman is a remarkable cinematic achievement and will earn a spot in the canon of films beloved by White Nationalists.
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Trevor Lynch’s Classics of Right-Wing Cinema
Race and Ethics in John Ford’s Stagecoach
Enoch Powell, poslední tory
John Wayne’s The Alamo & the Politics of the 1960s
The Banshees of Inisherin
The British Brass Band
By the Twisted Word, Slain; By the Good Word, Saved . . . & Other Stories Part II
I’ve enjoyed all the films from this director.
Particularly The VVitch
Saw it on Saturday nite: 9:10 to 11:30 showing. Reserved seating and I got the last open seat near the front. Unfortunately next to me sat an immensely fat woman of the Black persuasion. She was with her male companion. These were both older Black hippopotami.
She seemed a nice person until 1/2 hour into the movie she opened up her big cell phone and held it out in front of her and began using it for something. I asked her politely if she could put away her cell phone as I was trying to watch the movie and of course, she said “No”. I then said I’d get the manager and she was fine with that.
When I came back with the manager she accused me of reading her cell phone messages. I won’t bother answering that accusation but it’s clear that she admitted in front of the manager that she was using her cell phone.
Of course there is a warning at the beginning of every movie to turn off one’s cell and it was 10 pm or 10:30. The manager couldn’t really ask her to stop using her cell phone during the movie or say anything as that would infringe upon her freedoms. The only thing the manager could do was offer me a coupon for a free movie next time. She did open up her cell phone a couple times during the movie as it was clear that she had “permission” to do so.
I did accuse her of being rude and stupid and not caring about other people. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing that I was unpleasant and made her uncomfortable. After the movie they both left by the other end of the row.
Many Blacks have adopted an extremely entitled mentality these days. They absolutely don’t want to cooperate or get along with others. Possibly next time I’ll move when a Black person sits next to me if there are other seats. I hate to be rude but then again I want to enjoy my movie.
That’s a funny story, but I would be careful. The wrong one could attack you over something like that. No exaggeration.
On the other hand, that anecdote brings to mind a good strategy for scamming tickets, if you have a black friend who would be willing to conspire with you!
Yes, I lost my temper a little bit as I couldn’t believe she didn’t put away her cell phone when asked. I did call her “stupid” but didn’t use the N-word. She said I “was reading her messages”. Why would I want to read her d—- messages? I just wanted to watch the movie.
Maybe the movie put me into a kindred warlike mood? Yes, that was it. Black people should know better than to go to a far-right movie late at night.
Alex, this is an excellent article. I would’ve liked to have written it, but you have saved me the time and did it better than I could have. Thank you, and I have shared it through several channels.
I probably go to the movie theatre twice every year but always make a concerted effort to avoid blacks between showtimes and location. They cannot help themselves. Kudos to you for holding her accountable, Nicolas.
The Northman is a fantastic movie, and I am a big fan of the Eggers brothers. Robert Eggers states his filmmaking is (and will be) exclusively devoted to “European culture.” I wish I could find the interview where he said this, but he did.
It is a shame he is so misinformed about white identitarians. Nobody honors “European culture” better than Counter-Currents. And without our success, the source of his art will vanish from the Earth.
On the bright side, if he became outspokenly pro-white, his opportunities would disappear as well. I want this man to make films as long as Ridley Scott has! This one, in particular, is a source of inspiration.
David Michod’s The King is another nationalist masterpiece that miraculously emerged from Netflix. I’ll be writing an article about it soon.
The makers of the ‘most accurate Viking movie ever made’ didn’t bother to conceal the use of ‘safe’ unpointed practice swords in the clips I’ve seen.
I have a soft spot for everything Norse and the Nordics but the older I get the better I understand what a great German leader once said: when asked for our cultural forefathers, we should always point to the Greeks!
If you want to listen to some music with interesting viking stories, listen to Swedish metal band, Amon Amarth. Check out there last two albums, Jomsviking and Beserker. Some of there songs are about actual viking battles.
Last two albums from Amon Amarth are only a pale image of what the band was. Go to the first ones.
Incidentally, the band members are cucks, who proclaim everywhere that they are against “racism” and “antisemitism”
If you want viking – bathory is your huckleberry
Agreed. Bathory’s viking metal is without peer. I’ve noticed that no band ever sounds like them.
“The Northman” is a great big screen movie with some amazing scenes related to ancient scandinavian thought, and real timeless values, that I can’t recall any other modern film covering so explicitly.
If i have a criticism is that it follows the view that everyone was dirty and covered in crap in the ancient times, and “vikings” did nothing but war and fight all the time. But I guess it was too hard to show more in a 2.3 hour movie.
The plot and characters have just enough complexity to build up interest in their motivations and what may happen. Its definately not just about the main character Amleth, he is more of the catalyst for the actions we see, but again they only had 2.3hour.
For me compared to Dune 2022 (3/5), The Northman is a true masterpiece (5/5).
Yes having the Vikings clad in bulky and utterly impractical animal skins caked in mud is another ‘Dark Ages’ cinematic cliche (see YouTuber Lindybeige’s amusing critique of the movie Ironclad.) As has oft been repeated, ‘viking’ was not the name of a people but connoted seasonal maritime trade and piracy undertaken by Scandinavian men who were at other times of the year farmers or artisans. The sort of people who took meticulous care of their gear and did not go about with it or themselves covered in black sludge.
By medieval standards, the Vikings were neat freaks. They made a point of braving the cold water to bathe once a week. Although that’s below par by modern standards now that we have running water, back in the day they were considered highly attractive for it.
From the late ’70s and through the early ’80s, a few cinemas around the Denver metro region would host midnight showings of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” while some of my peers would attend in costume to act out the part of their favorite character inside the theatre.
Perhaps some White nationalists will don bear and wolf skins, bring swords and Dane axes to act out the part of their favorite Berserker in the theatre. 🙂
Saw the movie a couple of weeks ago. I was pleasantly surprised. No subsaharians, no grrrrl power, no PC propaganda. It is a very faithful recreation of the myth and the nordic peoples in general.
My only complain is the human sacrifices, which the nordic peoples didnt practice, ever. However, I understand tha Eggers is a horror film director, and he has to show some horror and gore…
I have a soft spot for The 13th Warrior, but The Northman is 10 times better.
Saw the movie same day as this review. Loved it, even though I would have appreciated even more of a cinematic ‘anthropological’ eye. More depictions of ordinary life and people, but I guess commercial considerations will intrude. How much of the depiction of routine slavery is historically accurate?
I also thought some plot aspects were improbable. Forget the magical crows releasing the protagonist from his bonds. How did the girl manage to get his tortured and bloody self out of there? Up to that point it had been pretty realistic. I guess it wasn’t really meant to be terribly realistic. It’s another onscreen myth. But worth seeing, and on the big screen.
A typical American and Hollywood film romanticizing Vikings past with gore and hyper sexualization. Looks like to be a fantasy film appeal to the average dumbed down Americans and commies.
Comparing Hamlet to a Viking is like comparing oranges to apples — different cultures and genetics.
The Scandinavians, including the Swedes could have directed a realistic film in their native tongues but all I ask is English subs.
The Swedish film: The Man from Beijing shows the unlimited depth of touching reality unlike Hollywood kowtowing to commies and “political correctness.”
I groan that some on this site seem to climax in their pants at the mere mention of Norsemen, Vikings, and paganism. It’s fine to a modest degree but when it starts to become a recurrent theme (a leitmotif for a Wagnerian ring bearer?), then it becomes a bullseye for the left to take aim upon. For me, the victory is that Eggers was seemingly able to make the film he wanted, without a giant list of diversity concessions to cultural sensors. I’m fine with it working both ways. The early films of Spike Lee or Melvin van Peebles didn’t feel like the needed a Mark Wahlberg white co-star to act like he’s a homey, instead of the reality of him living in a not-too-diverse neighborhood. Modern times are an assault on authenticity and meritocracy in its desire for the right ‘optics’. I’d rather hear traditional music of India or Korea than some K-pop boy band that emulates bad American culture. It’s good that there is a rich Western heritage that can still be mined upon, at least until the modern left tries to burn the history books and rewrite them.
“…nothing about The Northman is remotely subversive from our point of view.”
Really? You must have seen a different movie.
In fact, the whole plot is highly ‘subversive from our point of view’, otherwise it would not have passed Hollywood Quality Control.
It is not by chance that it’s characters are all-white. It shows Whitey as violent, brutal, rapist, animal-like berserk brutes, burning children and elders, honoring an “oath” to avenge the killer of his father and free his mother, supposedly enslaved by the murderer.
And when the spectator starts to feel some sympathy with the hero’s values and courage, he is told that his father was a rapist who had captured his mother and she hated him and was conniving in his father’s murder.
The usual Hollywood tactics to deconstruct White man’s value system.
I fully agree. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised to see Northman being shown next year by Yad Vashem at a new installation explaining how those hated Germans got to be so vicious and evil and how the world would be so much better if they’d never existed. They might have to edit out the part where the heroine displays her blood-soaked ‘cunny’ to discourage unwanted attention from the villain. That was the point where I walked out. We don’t need films like this. Go read a book!
If this movie is as mind-numbingly boring and milquetoast as the completely overrated The Witch, I’ll pass. I’ve also learned that whenever my fellow righties say that a TV show or movie has no globohomo messaging in it, they are almost always wrong.
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