I have now watched The Northman movie. Stand by for spoilers.
There is currently a lot of hype surrounding this movie. The hype falls into two categories: people are either pissed because the movie is too historically correct or because it is not historically correct enough. Both of these groups are right but also wrong. Below are my genius assessments, in no particular order.
The grading button has been heavily pressed, as for everything “authentic” in the last few years. Medieval-ish + garish or glitter = fantasy. Medieval-ish + grey and muddy = historical. Ok, mud. What else?
There is a lot of confusing terrain in this film, that does not match Denmark as such: dramatic cliffs rising out of the sea, steep hills etc. May I ask, HAVE YOU BEEN TO DENMARK? Ever?
This is what Denmark looks like.
Illustrated in the text, Danish topography could be rendered like so: _______________________
I’m glad we cleared that up.
In this flatland, nobody has an indoor voice. There is a lot of screaming, mostly containing plainly declared intent. In fact, the entire voice track is like a railing to hold on to, saying in plain speech what just happened, what those involved think about it, and what they mean to do next. Big arrows pointing to what’s going on. This makes for not entirely bad script writing, even if the dialogue IS very cringe. But plain, compartmentalized story elements neatly stacked, THANK you. As a break in the general trend of Hollywood writing, which involves having very flimsy scripts or no scripts at all (*cough* Doctor Strange), but plenty of explosions and costumes to hide that fact, it’s refreshing.
As per my previous rants, I note more further gaps in walls of any houses on screen. It’s a little better compared to The Lääst Kingdumb, but in many places the snowfall is still plainly visible through the wicker screens that serve as alleged housing during this Little Ice Age romp. Maybe this explains why there are so many dramatic cloaks worn indoors – it can’t be just a fashion statement, or a neat way of covering up the fact that you’re bleeding out during dinner and will soon lose your place in the dynasty.
We need to also talk about Nicole Kidman’s alleged tablet weaving. This has been one of the things most discussed in the niche backwaters that are my social media feed, because PRIORITIES. Elisabeth rang me, screaming “SHE LOOKS LIKE SHE’S HAD A STROKE!!” and she’s absolutely right – there is a serious tremor going on, making Kidman look like she is trying to play an alien instrument with which she is not familiar. Parkinson meds are in order. We apologize. Why did the movie makers leave her hanging, when a few minutes of show and tell would have put her in a better position to pretend she is weaving? Also production speed and focus are apparently not a thing, but honestly I applaud her appropriately OCD levels of attempted crafting, as she has two (2) thralls placing a (very small, unheavy) inkle loom ifo her IN THE DARK, IN HER WOBBLY BED, while she is simultaneously trying to seduce the heavily bleeding King. This is the time for crafts indeed. The left-right positioning of the warp is unusual but not unheard of, but flapping your trembling fingers sans weft over eight drooping tablets that are never turned, in the hopes that a band will appear does not a woven item make. Nicole!! The nerd community is watching! Very grateful I know squat about riding, fencing, dancing, farming, carpentry and/or basically everything except certain textile details. It would make every movie unwatchable. OK, this was the most important complaint, glad we’ve addressed it.
There is snow. Authentic, thin snow that looks like it stings and comes from the side. This is legit. And drugs, including the infamous “stab-yourself mushroom” which I am intrigued to learn about. Best of all, reasonably synchronized rowing! (Applause). At least better than in most other Voyking movies, thank youuuuu!
Björk appears as a völva with the now-accepted Heilung extra costume, ACTUALLY displaying minor proficiency in distaff spinning, though she’s flapping a rather small weight round and round using it suspended, with a hand distaff (authentic) and drop spindle combo (eh), to which I say WHYYY?
On to the core of any life of the past: HARD LABOUR IN ICELAND. Please accept your Slave Outfit TM with no gores so you cannot walk or perform any heavy tasks. Your slave head covering must sit precisely below the “this will slip off” line, making me suspect a strip of wood glue was squirted by the costume dept into the peroxide tresses of lovely Anya TJ. “Keep her arms white and her hair long” – this ideal is saga confirmed, but also another indication that face blindness was a thing in the Iron Age. Why so few contemporary mentions of desirable facial features? These days we are all about face details. Maybe the suffering and dental status back then was simply so terrible that “having a face” automatically made you at least an 8.5 in the run for Hottest Thrall? I’m also seeing a lot of very dirty faces, paired with reasonably clean clothes and surfaces?? What’s easier to clean, precious?
Oh yeah, the story: Alexander has now been awake for 94 hours straight since he arrived at the Scene of Vengeance, since he spends every night there climbing out through various windows and skulking around the settlement to build some rather Hannibalesque meat sculptures, making it very hard to root for him after a while. When things go badly, potato nose intensifies – if the outdoor voice is not enough, a hard stare might solve your issues. Or maybe just a very odd swimming style. What is he doing??
After some changes of heart and some very Anime type mind reading skills, we get a Very Star Wars ending, well past any reasonable hit points limit. There is a Healing-by-screaming special skill at work here. I have little else to say, as I feel they just got sick of it all and killed the lead before the story was actually over.
So: in the Venn overlap between Valhalla Rising, Torsk på Tallinn, and Forky asks a question, sits the Nörfman. Enjoy.