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If you are into Norse myth/legends or marauding Vikings, this is the film for you. If you’re into unfettered views of a ripped torso, this is very much the film for you. If you like mystical, magical settings and glorious vistas, you will get all that and a bag of chips. Gorgeous, scenic cinematography with gloom, mist, creepy witches and blood and guts fighting—it’s all that and more chips. It’s safe to say this film will transport you back into the first Millenia, back when hygiene was on nobody’s mind.

It’s no secret that Shakespeare got a lot of his plots from other countries and their legends. This is the legend of Amleth (Hamlet) and done to a turn. So, I knew what was going to happen. That didn’t slow it down for me. Even with the sparse dialogue, the story held my attention. The acting was wonderful with standout performances by Alexander Skarsgard (Amleth) and Nicole Kidman (Queen Gudrun). The music is perfect, haunting, weird and unsettling. To take the viewer into Amleth’s time and to experience it in his point of view, Robert Eggers incorporated Nordic spirituality and beliefs into the story. The soothsayers are believable as occultists. And because Amleth believes, so do we.

Prior to seeing the film, I listened to a Terry Gross interview on NPR with Skarsgard, who was in his hometown of Stockholm. Many juicy tidbits were revealed, such as the unusual filming technique of running an entire, long battle scene in one take. While and after seeing it, I was amazed. Skarsgard joked that it had to be redone due to chickens flying around when they shouldn’t. Repeatedly screaming and growling in bestial frenzy, cranking up in preparation for a berserker attack, left him temporarily without a voice.

This is a movie for the strong of stomach, romantic of heart, and lover of epic storytelling. I attended with a friend who knows the gods of the time. Her explanations cleared up a lot. It might help to look up a list of them. Sorry, Thor is never mentioned. Odin gets all the attention. And the Valkyries. So cool. The only missteps that took me out of the story was seeing one rider with stirrups, which came into use when knights jousted or carried heavy metal into battle, and Alexander’s clean, pretty teeth. Forgave him everything after seeing him without his shirt. Worth the price of admission.

M.L Rigdon (aka Julia Donner)

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