First Trailer: ‘The Northman’ is the Björk-Starring Viking Revenge Film We Need Right Now

Surely one of the reasons for the massive success of Game of Thrones, was that in a digital age of extreme physical disconnect, it presented such a primal picture of the raw exchange of life and death – making today’s drone strikes seem utterly cowardly in their technical detachment. Of course, no one does/did a really good beheading/evisceration quite like the Vikings. And the first trailer for the concisely titled new film The Northman (Vikings were from up North, if you were from almost anywhere else back then), makes no apology of the unflinching bloodshed, whether in the name of honor or dishonor.

Helmed by acclaimed young writer-director Robert Eggers (2015’s The Witch, 2019’s The Lighthouse), it’s a classic revenge tale, at its essence – as we see a ridiculously sculpted Alexander Skarsgård as the Viking prince Amieth, who sets determinedly about enacting vengeance for the murder of his father, whilst also seeking to restore himself to the title of king. For authenticity’s sake, Eggers co-wrote the script with revered Icelandic poet Sjón (Scandinavians don’t like their mythology being co-opted by outsiders), who has actually collaborated with Björk several times in the past. And guess what? She also plays here the Slav Witch, who we see slyly giving what might be an order or simply a philosophical suggestion: “Remember for whom you shed your last teardrop.”

We first see Amieth as a young boy, with his father King Horwendil (Ethan Hawke) returning from a journey and promising him, “One day this kingdom will be yours.” But Uncle Fjölnir (Claes Bang) has other ideas, and takes his brother’s head in a decidedly merciless scene. The general atmosphere of the film is one of stark, unremitting gloom and desolation – just as one imagines medieval Northern European winters might have been. But the cinematography is also remarkably vivid and evocative, with the land- and seascapes woven viscerally into the headiness of the folklore.

And while sheer physical formidability plainly explains the grown up Amieth’s readiness for the challenge, Anya Taylor-Joy‘s mysterious Olga promises him a more ethereal assistance: “I have the cunning to break their minds.” Which power sounds like it could come very much in handy, surely.

The remarkable cast also includes Nicole Kidman, Willem Dafoe and GOT‘s Ian Whyte. And while there will surely be plenty of mysticism at play in the script, this is probably not a film for the faint-of-heart, politically correct set, as modern sensibilities will likely be offended with every ruthless swing of the well-sharpened axe. Still, it’s hard to imagine there could be any good enough reason to pass up seeing Björk playing a witch.

The Northman will be released in theaters April 22 via Focus Features.

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