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A revenge saga like no other, the visceral third film by Robert Eggers (The Witch and The Lighthouse) cements his auteur credentials.
As a child, Amleth (Oscar Novak) swears allegiance to his Viking king father (Ethan Hawke), only to see him cut down by his brother (Claes Bang), who orders Amleth’s death and kidnaps his mother (Nicole Kidman). As a man, Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård) has become a fearsome warrior who, on hearing the fate of his father’s killer, poses as a slave and stows away on a ship bound for Iceland, ready to wreak his revenge. But all is not what it seems in this godforsaken world.
Co-written with Icelandic novelist Sjón, Eggers’ Nordic adventure isn’t short on blade-wielding, bone-crunching violence. Neither does it fail in its aim of recreating life in 10th century northern Europe. The cast, which also includes Anya Taylor-Joy, Willem Dafoe and a game Björk, playing a blind soothsayer, channel the ferocious nature of a people surviving in the harshest conditions, as Eggers gradually amps up the intensity of his drama. It’s heady stuff. Not for the fainthearted, but stunningly realised.