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The Northman

Director – Robert Eggers – 2022 – US – Cert. 15 – 136m

*****

A 10th Century Viking prince vows revenge on his father king’s killer and sees it through to death – out in cinemas on Friday, April 15th

Young Viking Prince Amleth (Oscar Novak from The Batman) is thrilled when his warrior father King Aurvandil War-Raven (Ethan Hawke) returns with a line of prisoners in two to his fortified stronghold and Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman). Father and son are devoted to each other, participating in a private ritual involving bodily sounds and consumption of an hallucinogenic liquid that causes the boy to experience a vision of his family line: a tree of life where the trunk is a spine and branches are umbilical cords attached to grown kings as the viewpoint pans up reveal the boy attached to the highest cord. He is now prepared to take over the rule of the kingdom when his father dies.

He doesn’t seem to get on quite so well with his mother, who warns him never to enter her room unannounced. At a banquet in honour of Aurvandil, his dour brother Fjölnir (Claes Bang from The Square, Ruben Östlund, 2017) takes exception to court jester Heimir the Fool (Willem Dafoe).… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Gladiator (2000)

Director – Ridley Scott – 2000 – US – 15 – 155m

*****

UK Release 12th May 2000.

Initiated by screenwriter David Franzoni (Amistad, Steven Spielberg, 1997) at DreamWorks, this picked up definitive cinematic stylist Ridley Scott, who created the seminal futuristic cityscape of Blade Runner (1982). Elsewhere, Scott’s downside is that his visuals notoriously swamp character and plot. Thelma & Louise (1991), his best film in the interim eighteen odd years, sidestepped precisely this pitfall. Gladiator, however, is more like Blade Runner. The plot is fine as far as it goes – which is far enough to deliver a halfway decent, engaging dramatic potboiler – but far more importantly it gives Scott the perfect peg upon which to hang another superlative cityscape. In short, Ridley Scott does ancient Rome.

Set-up, plot resolution, characters and even the leading man’s look are borrowed wholesale from The Fall Of The Roman Empire (Anthony Mann, 1964). Russell Crowe (looking remarkably like the original’s Stephen Boyd) plays Roman general Maximus, unhappy that the late Caesar Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris) has been succeeded by his unsatisfactory son Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Treachery is afoot as Maximus is sold into slavery as a gladiator to compete in Commodus’ lavish games at Rome’s amphitheatre.… Read the rest