Movie review – The Northman

Released March 2022. Produced by Regency Enterprises and Perfect World Pictures. Distributed by Universal Pictures (International) and Focus Features (US). Directed by Robert Eggers. Written by Robert Eggers and Sjón, based on the legend of Amleth in Gesta Danorum by Saxo Grammaticus. Age rating R (16 and above). Running time 137 minutes.

My major in college was English Language and Letters, with a specialization in Germanic studies. Thus, when I learned that there was new a film based on the legend of Amleth, which was the source for William Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, and set in the Viking Age, I knew that I was going to see it. My interest was only heightened when I read an article in the Daily Mail complaining that the film had been “hijacked by White supremacists,” who praised it for its all-White cast and healthy social values (‘White supremacists claim ownership over Hollywood blockbuster The Northman’ – Daily Mail Online).

The film under discussion is The Northman. It is not a “Viking movie” in a strict sense, as it does not deal with Norse raiders and the action takes place mostly on a farm in Iceland. But it is correct to say that it is set in what is known as the Viking Age and deals with source material drawn from pre-Christian Germanic heathendom. It tells the tale of the warrior Amleth, better known from Shakespeare’s theatrical treatment of the story, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (written about 1600).

Shakespeare apparently got his material from the Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus, who in turn was working from a now-lost Icelandic saga from the heathen period. So, we are dealing with primeval material that goes back to the earliest days of Western civilization, and perhaps even further.

The plot will be familiar in its broad outlines to anyone who has seen Shakespeare’s play. King Aurvandil (played by Ethan Hawke) is murdered by his brother Fjölnir (Claes Bang), who then seizes the throne and marries Aurvandil’s wife, Gudrun (Nicole Kidman). Fjölnir orders Aurvandil’s son Amleth (Oskar Novak) to be killed, but the boy escapes. He vows to avenge his father’s death. Years later, as a warrior (now played by Alexander Skarsgård), Amleth learns that Fjölnir has lost his new kingdom and has resettled with Gudrun in Iceland, where he is a wealthy farmer with a large estate. Amleth disguises himself as a war captive and gets himself sent to his uncle’s farm. There he plays the role of a dim-witted and slightly crazed slave. He bides his time and waits for the proper moment to enact his revenge. Without giving away too many details, let’s just say that by the end of the film almost everyone at the farm is dead.

I had expected The Northman to be, more or less, a cinematic version of the popular television series Vikings, but I was wrong about that. Vikings is a 21st century look back at the Viking era. The Northman, in contrast, takes you out of the 21st century and drops you right in the middle of the Ninth century. You are within the legend of Amleth as it may have been experienced by our distant ancestors. The supernatural elements that modern Westerners have long dismissed play an active role in the narrative, and they become as real to the viewer as they are to the characters in the film.

The cinematography has rich, saturated colors. The musical score reinforces the brooding mood of the tale as it inexorably works its way to its violent conclusion. The Northman is a film with real artistic quality, not just another action flick set against a Viking backdrop.

The Northman is self-consciously heathen in its values and aesthetics, reflecting the era in which it is set. It is full of pagan motifs, most notably that of the World Tree (called Yggdrasil in Old Norse). In the film it is used to depict the bloodline of Amleth’s family, stretching from himself into the distant past. As a warrior, Amleth worships Odin in his role of God of Battle. Fjölnir, on the other hand, as a farmer, has a personal consecration to the fertility God, Freyr – whom Amleth mocks as “the god of erections.” A supporting character is Olga (played by Anya Joy-Taylor – who UK readers know from the cult BBC TV series Peaky Blinders, where she played Gina Gray, the scheming wife of gangster Michael Gray). She is a Slavic pagan priestess who is also a slave at Fjölnir’s farm. She prays to unnamed “Gods of the Earth.” We witness one character, who falls heroically in battle, being taken to Valhalla by a Valkyrie while he dies with a beatific smile on his face. Clearly, Eggers has taken pains to distance his film as far as possible from any hint of Christianity.

It is unsurprising that the anti-Whites hate this movie, and not just because it has an all-White cast. Early on, young Amleth is initiated into the inner world of the Norse religion by his father in a mystic ceremony. There, he is taught the central values of the heathen faith, including, “Live in honor. Safeguard your familial blood.” These are exactly the sentiments that our racial enemies do not want White audiences exposed to (and especially not White youth).

Some of the cast at the Hollywood premiere of The Northman

Likewise, in The Northman, men are men and women are women, and there is no blurring of traditional gender roles. A major flaw in Vikings, for example, was the depiction of women warriors fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with their men in a shield wall. In reality, there were few women warriors in the Viking age – perhaps none at all. In an era when combat was based on brute force, few women could go toe-to-toe with a male warrior.

The box office returns from The Northman have been disappointing; the film has yet to make back what it cost to produce. But I predict that it will have a long life as an underground classic, Certainly it will within the racial nationalist community, and (one hopes) among a broader White audience as the winds of change shift in our favor.

Reviewed by Martin Kerr, Falls Church, Virginia

Editor’s note: Mr. Kerr is a long-time contributor to Heritage and Destiny. He is currently the Chief of Staff of the New Order, a National Socialist organization based in the USA – check out their website at

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