Northman’s directors’ commentary delves into most jaw-dropping moments
2022 has been an amazing year for movies so far. One of the most underrated gems this year has been Robert Egger‘ The man from the north. The Vikings’ Revenge epic has received critical acclaim across the board and was recently released on Blu-ray earlier this month. Now, Universal has released a scaled-down version of Eggers’ directors’ commentary found on the home press release.
The nine-minute video highlights some of the film’s best moments and takes us through various aspects of Eggers’ amazing approach. Everything from camera work, lighting, action, costume design, and sound design is covered here. It’s always fun to listen to what happened behind the making of a film. Especially when it’s someone as thorough as Eggers. The director is known for his historical authenticity, practical cinematic style and long camera moves. It’s all covered here, but it’s also interesting to hear the director talk about his film as if he doesn’t know if the final product works or not. It’s kind of funny to hear someone at the top of their game like Egger talk about their job like that when The man from the north is one of the best movies of the year so far. For this reason, the filmmaker is very humble here.
In the commentary itself, Eggers touches on some of the movie’s most impressive doll shots, like the tense opening scene when a young Amleth is chased by his uncle Fjölnir after murdering Amleth’s father. Other highlights include a fun Conan the Barbarian easter egg/connection and Eggers’ discussion of the film’s lighting. Especially when it comes to Nicole Kidman‘s Gudrún, Amleth’s mother, in the now infamous scene where she reveals her backstory and intentions to Amleth. The scene where Gudrún recounts how she was once a slave under Amleth’s father is nothing short of heartbreaking, but it quickly turns into a deeply disturbing scene where Gudrún embraces his son. Eggers in the commentary explains how he wanted the lighting in this scene to make Gudrún vulnerable before he was quickly consumed by harsh shadows. Hearing Egger compare his grim transition to Boris Karloff in a Universal Monster movie is very weird and will put a smile on any fan of the genre. It’s one of many moments where Egger’s horror past is terrifyingly alive in this tragic tale of revenge.
Whereas The man from the north is probably Egger’s most accessible film compared to his horror films The witch and Lighthouse, the film took everything the director learned from those two masterpieces and applied it on an epic scale. However, despite this new, larger scope, Eggers never lost the intimately emotional and frankly terrifying storytelling found in his last two features. This is highlighted in this commentary, but Eggers is one of a rare breed of filmmakers who effortlessly immerses their audience in the landscape of the story. As The witch and Lighthouse before him, the Icelandic decor is a major character The man from the north. Eggers goes into the cold days that each actor endured on set, which can be felt while watching the film, and it’s one of the reasons this epic is as effective as it is.
However, this is only a small sample of what can be found in this director’s commentary. To see what Eggers had to say about Bjorkfrom costume design to the final volcano showdown, you can watch the full commentary below. You can also buy The man from the north on Blu-ray or stream this Viking epic on Peacock now: