The Cold Brutality of Robert Eggers' Filmography


By: Isaac P. Ale
July 21, 2022

skarsgard The Northman [2022]

Film

I'm not going to do what I did with The Lost City where I plugged the shit out of Paramount Plus for this article, specifically watching The Northman. Mostly because it wasn't Paramount Plus, it was Peacock, and I'm allowed to have more than one streaming service people, it's fine, I'm fine.

Anyways, with my infinity gauntlet of streaming services, I was able to finally catch Robert Eggers' third film, The Northman -- a viking epic set around Prince Amleth's (Alexander Skarsgård) journey to avenge his father (Ethan Hawke), save his mother (Nicole Kidman) and kill his uncle (Claes Bang). Genre-wise this was extremely appealing to me, and I loved hearing all the little bits and pieces that Eggers gave us while the film was in production. I remember him mentioning something about the acting bravado Skarsgård was bringing to the film after shooting a scene where he rips out a man's throat with his teeth.

witch The Witch [2015]

It's hard not to get a little excited hearing that combined with Eggers' ability to frame scenes of equal brutality. Scenes like in The Witch where the mother (Kate Dickie) believes to be breastfeeding their missing baby, and it turns out a crow is actually picking at her. Or in The Lighthouse, where Robert Pattinson absolutely annihilates a seagull, setting in motion the entire conflict of that film.

Not only can Eggers deliver a foreboding feeling of doom and gloom, but he does so with his penchant for cold set pieces and frigid atmosphere. While this may be a little on the nose since Eggers' filmography rarely takes place south of the Mason-Dixon line, it is more of a commentary on the ambience that Eggers has become known for. To be fair, there's an ultimate battle sequence in The Northman that takes place in the lava fields of a volcano, and it still feels like it should be freezing cold.

lighthouse The Lighthouse [2019]

The sense of doom, the cold, it all adds up to a very 'edge of your seat' thrill that pairs well with the undeniable brutality that is peppered throughout an Eggers script. Common disembowlments, gravity defying deaths, and violent demises round out a story that is often compelling and unexpected. Furthermore, Eggers' dedication to an immersive experience within his settings drive his filmography to a whole new level. I don't believe anyone is more driven, on a linguistics level, to have characters emulate the speech of the time and geographic location like Eggers. The Witch was famously known for being a little difficult to understand with the characters being invested in recreating the 1600's speech patterns of New England. But that all the more resulted in a higher level of filmmaking. The scene where Caleb (Harvey Scrimshaw), being possessed by the witch, goes on a few minute monologue in sweaty ferver was the pinnacle of the linguistic perfectionism. It heightened the film, pushed the plot, and was a pitch-perfect character development piece. The same goes for the well known moment in The Lighthouse where Willem Dafoe berates Robert Pattinson for saying he doesn't like his cooking. Not only does Dafoe talk in a climbing tone, but he also doesn't blink for something like 2 minutes (which is wild if you want to try) and the speech patterns for the time period are perfect. Most directors, actors, and writers really don't have the same level of dedication to this immersive viewing quite like Eggers. His ability to create this 'realm' are the same level as the creation of the Na'Vi language for Avatar or Peter Jackson's dedication to the book material for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, not The Hobbit. We don't talk about The Hobbit.

northman The Northman [2022]

The Northman is no exception to this pattern. With Björk putting on a fantastic cameo appearance as the Seeress delivering some chilling lines to Amleth. Every character is on the same page (literally), and the cogs of the machine move together so smoothly I couldn't help but be in awe of the sheer magnitude of what I was watching. Eggers has actually commented on the budget of the film saying it was a little too much for him and that he prefers the smaller feel of his productions -- but I'll say he crushed his first big budget film! The entire mise-en-scène of the film was cold, brooding, foreboding, and brutal, a perfect addition to the filmography.

Performance-wise it's hard to deny that Skarsgård was on another level for this film. He rose to the physical challenges the character demanded and delivered ten-fold. Anya Taylor-Joy was spot on as well, giving a great supporting character performance as well as delivering some classic lines -- I think back to her final lines on the ship as Amleth goes back to fight Fjölnir.

Speaking of fighting Fjölnir, the conflict along with the whole script was impeccable. The final little twist found my jaw cracking open a bit as I certainly was not expecting it. Maybe others would've been more keen to predict it, but I was focused on everything else, you know like fighting a giant zombie knight for the night blade.

I've rambled a good bit here, but I'll wrap it up by saying Robert Eggers is one of the best filmmakers out there right now and I can't wait for what he comes up with next! Also The Northman is awesome.

Froth

I picked myself up a nice 4-pack for this viewing and found my choice to be an excellent complement to the cold immersive experience of The Northman Fremont Brewing (I know, I go here a lot) has a new collaboration brew with Burial Beer Co. for a fantastic IPA called, Specific Void.

What the two breweries have created is fantastic, another amazing entry in the Fremont brew-log. While not a hazy IPA, this brew has a strong amount of fruity flavor that kind of resembles that hazy texture along with the aroma associated with it. Starting with some tropical flavors like mango, pineapple and some orange the Specific Void brings it home with a classic pine flavor along with some bitterness for a rounded drinking experience. My favorite thing about this beer is if you go to the brewer's description at the Fremont Brewing website they list the IBU's as "ACT," which they then define as "a crap ton". First off, that's hilarious, and second, while there are "a crap ton" of IBU's, the bitterness of the beer is nothing overwhelming or off-putting. In fact, the bitterness gives it that perfect IPA flavor, feel, and body.

Specific Void
IPA - American | 7.5% ABV
Fremont Brewing & Burial Beer Co.
fremontbrewing
burialbeer

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