Shakespeare and Vikings

I went to see the movie Northman with my writer friend, M. L. Rigdon. Mary Lou was an actress when she was younger, loved performing on stage. When I go to see a play with her, she comments on the costumes, stage direction, the acting, and the story. It’s like when writers get together to talk about a book we’ve read. We talk about the elements that went into the novel–the plot, pacing, dialogue, etc. We discuss the whole AND all of the parts. She can do the same with movies. Me? Not so much. I go to a movie to immerse myself in the experience and often miss the finer details. Sure, just like reading, I notice plot and pacing, characterization and story details. Lighting? Filming? They have to be unusual to catch my attention.

Northman caught my attention over and over again. Both Mary Lou and I enjoy Viking tales. That’s why I wrote Empty Altars and Spinners of Misfortune as Judith Post. But I never expected to see a bloodthirsty Viking cast as Hamlet. It makes sense when you think about it, though. Hamlet was from Denmark, and the story’s plot was one of revenge. Vikings took vengeance seriously, especially in 900 some A.D. They took their gods and goddesses seriously, too, so a lot of mysticism was woven into the movie.

Amleth (Prince Hamlet in this version) was played by Alexander Skarsgard, and he did a brilliant job. All of the acting was wonderful, but in a story of brute violence, over and over again, I didn’t expect so much emotion, so many subtleties. Magic was scattered in and out of the story to show the mindset of the time. Occasionally, the filming gave the story an almost dreamlike quality. The last battle was filmed that way, and I thought it was brilliant.

Mary Lou often writes reviews about the movies she watches, and I hope she writes one for Northman. Here’s the link for her blog: in case she does. She’ll catch far more things than my reactions to the movie. But, I found Northman impressive. Lots of violence. Amleth kills anyone who gets in his way. And in truth, the Vikings as a whole were portrayed as a violent race, which they were. But they lived in a harsh land, and it helped shape them and their beliefs.

In case you’d like a more in-depth article on the movie, I found this:

And if any of you saw the movie, let us know what you thought of it.

13 thoughts on “Shakespeare and Vikings

  1. My grandpa was a pure Dark Dane. I might still have a bit running in my veins. Probably why I’m drawn to Vikings so much. But I’m pretty opposed to conflict and violence. I do have a temper, but it takes a lot to rile me.


  2. If you liked the Northman, you might try “The Witch” and “The Lighthouse” by the same director.

    While they are definitely different sorts of plots with different types of themes, all three are unified by Eggers taking on these three different settings with this sort of dark magical realist take on specific historical settings/incident in an interesting (though often disturbing) way. The Witch and the Lighthouse definitely fall more on the horror end of the spectrum though.

    Liked by 1 person

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