Take Hamlet and transport him among the Vikings, dust off Shakespeare and mix him with ancient Norse sagas, write an army of superstars (Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Alexander Skarsgård, Willem Dafoe, Ana Taylor-Joy, Claes Bang, Björk) and throw them into the Wild Iceland between fierce battles, guts, beheadings, betrayals, revenge, magic, hectoliters of blood and brutal violence. The result? The Northman, Universal superproduction (in theaters April 21), directed by Robert Eggers, 38, dark look and friendly approach, cult character among the youngest for having directed the magical horror The Witch and The Lighthouse with Robert Pattinson.
In The Northman, set in the 10th century AD, Hamlet (Skarsgård) is a young Viking prince who as a child witnesses the murder of his father (Hawke) by his uncle (Bang) and grows up with the desire to take revenge. When he grows up he will discover the true nature of the mother queen (Kidman) and will have the help of his beloved woman (Taylor-Joy).
“It had never occurred to me to make a film about the Vikings – explains Eggers – I considered them violent, brutal, uninteresting. Instead, after a trip to Iceland, I was struck by those landscapes and I began to immerse myself in the culture of the Nordic peoples, discovering a complex heritage in which art, religion, codes of honor, customs and justice merge.
And, even though my father teaches Shakespeare at the university, I didn’t know that Hamlet was probably inspired by the Viking epic, by its violence. ‘ And it is precisely the brutality, in addition to the sex scenes, that has meant that in America the film has been banned to the very young. “But I didn’t praise violence”, the director defends himself, “I only recounted the exploits of a male warrior of 10 centuries ago”.
“However in the film, as in all of Norse mythology, women play a central role: they bridge the gap between the real and the spiritual world, lead the game and control the men. Sometimes they even manipulate them, just like the queen played by Kidman does. ” On violence, Alexander aligns himself with Eggers, a director chosen by him “for his extraordinary attention to detail: in fact, we wanted the film to be as authentic as possible, including brutality, but without that complacency that instead distinguishes so many action-movies” . Hamlet? “It was a magnificent story to repeat, also due to its probable ties to the Viking sagas. I, as a Swede, could not miss this opportunity ».