Robert Eggers Feels He Needs to ‘Restrategize’ After ‘The Northman’

Northerner To be one of the best movies of the year: a bloody, bloody Viking action adventure that roars with frenzied ferocity and enchanters with psychedelic intrigue. Conceived and executed on an epic scale, imbued with timeless themes of revenge, honor and fate, and imbued with the author’s signature folk horror personality, it is precisely the unique kind of large-scale original that everyone assumed Hollywood was no longer interested in producing. However, despite those exemplary qualities, as well as the all-star cast (led by Alexander SkarsgårdNicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe) and critical acclaim, Robert Eggers’ third film — after the haunting film Witch and batshit-crazy Lighthouse—Has been underperforming in the US, with multiplexing now at $33 million (compared to a reported $70 – $90 million budget). In a theater environment today dominated by superheroes and IP-focused blockbusters, Eggers’ archaic revenge story is beginning to resemble another depressing reminder that, perhaps, the old ways are dying out quickly.

Such startlingly larger concerns, however, do not reflect the excellence of the latest installment of Eggers, a ferocious beast about an orphaned Viking prince named Amleth (Skarsgård) who is looking for a way to be perfect. wages against his uncle (Claes Bang), who murdered his father (Hawke) and married his mother (Kidman). Based on legend none other than inspired by William Shakespeare Hamletand infused with the wondrous rage of a kind cinematic spirit Conan the BarbarianThe 38-year-old’s malevolent film is a crown jewel of signature rage and unbridled intimidation, spearheaded by a lofty turn from Skarsgård as a betrayed and abandoned hell warrior, wants to reclaim his birthright.

Filled with more magic, violence, and brutal combat than any 2022 release to date, the film cannot be missed, and audiences now have another chance to experience — and embrace — it. thanks to a recent appearance on VOD. To celebrate that debut, we talked to Eggers about NorthernerBox office fate, the modern movie scene, reports that the film has been wrongly accepted by white nationalists, and the future big and small screen plans of he.

Now then Northerner has more or less finished its theatrical run, are you disappointed in its box office performance?

I think it lived up to the expectations of a bad market [laughs]. Am I disappointed that, three to four weeks later, we’re using VOD because that’s how things are done in the post-COVID world? YES. But it’s working great on VOD, so you should. When I see, on social media, people take pictures of themselves looking at Northerner on their laptop and excited about it, it brought tears to my eyes. But that’s what it is.

A lot has been written about the movie’s underperformance “meaning.” Do you think it points to bad things about the prospect of pre-existing large-scale, non-IP based original movies?

Yes, it is the decline of Western civilization, what can I say? Look around. Yes, it’s terrible. [laughs]

Going forward, will it make you rethink your own strategy about the types of projects you want to tackle?

I need to reframe what I’m advertising for a studio. Like, how do I be me and survive in this environment? Because they wouldn’t have me anyway, I wouldn’t want to direct a Marvel movie and I wouldn’t be trying to get the rights Lay egg or something. I will continue to do what I will. But I know that people are worried right now, you know? Everyone is worried. And that is justifiable.


Alexander Skarsgård as Amleth and Anya Taylor-Joy as Olga in director Robert Eggers’ Viking epic Northerner

Aidan Monaghan / Focus feature

For you, is NorthernerThe theater’s fate was at least partially offset by the enthusiastic critical response to the film, as well as the devoted fan base it was inspired by?

It feels great that people like the movie and understand the movie, and the movie is so well done and seems to be finding an audience. Satisfied of course. I’m proud of the movie. Nothing is perfect, but I’m proud of the movie.

Front Northernerof the release, you talked about wanting to reclaim Viking lore from the white nationalists who had appropriated it. However, the film seems to have been well received by some of them online. Are you frustrated with those events? Do you think they misunderstood the movie and your intentions?

I think if you’re a hammer seeker, everything’s nailed. And I can’t help but have that attitude. [laughs]

Do you mind that some extremists seem to react to it that way?

How can it not? But like I said, I said what I said.

You’ve been witches and sea creatures before — why Vikings now?

I don’t care about Vikings and macho stereotypes, and the Nazis’ misappropriation of right-wing Viking culture reinforced my disinterest as an adult. But when I went to Iceland, the landscapes were so inspiring and I wanted to know about the people who sailed there in 10 years.order century and not dead. [laughs] Also, I really like sagas. I became very passionate about sagas, and the idea of ​​a Viking movie intrigued me. A few years later, I had lunch with Alexander Skarsgård, and he was trying to make a Viking movie for a while. The idea of ​​doing it with Alex made it happen and he was the perfect man for it.

In regards to your first two movies, Northerner is epic big budget. Are you worried about maintaining your individuality while working on a wider canvas, and with more classic characters and dramatic dynamics?

Mostly, the answer is no. [laughs] Part of making the saga is that it’s more of a casual story than, Lighthouse, which is said to not even have a story. Sagas are entertaining and in creating an entertaining story that everyone can understand, so I’m creating something for a wider audience than I’ve ever done before. But since that’s the fabric of the source material I’m using, I still stick with my approach, which is to try to dig into the past and present it this way. So in that sense, no. And Regency is really cool allowing me to reuse all of my chiefs, shoot single camera and film at a larger scale the way I did before.

This was mentioned to an extent where I was disappointed, but in post-production it was different, because the movie was at this scale and I didn’t have the final cut. That said, my collaborators and I have stuck together, and we’re just saying we’re simply not going to leave with something we’re not proud of. So we did. But for sure, there were times when that was difficult in post-production.

This was mentioned to an extent where I was disappointed, but in post-production it was different, because the movie was at this scale and I didn’t have the final cut.

Does that mean there’s a longer “director short” that you prefer? Or are such post-wars simply a natural aspect of the process?

Calling it a war is almost meaningless since it’s just a part of the filmmaking process. These conversations happened on two of my other movies where I cut the last part. But to a lesser extent, because of that. And also because, look, Lighthouse To be Lighthouseand no one does Lighthouse to get rich.

Or streamline to make it more mainstream.

Right. Exactly.

Northerner is a story of revenge, which I mean casually, avoiding the moral condemnation of revenge. Did you think about that when you wrote it?

He [Skarsgård’s Amleth] He is not a modern man, and I do not share his worldview. The Valkyrie can scream and sing and shout, the trumpet can play and he can cry a happy tear, but personally I see that as a waste of a lifetime. To become the moral cutlery, in the cycle of revenge, who is the winner? To me, no one seems to be. But Amleth will tell you something very different, and that is what we are describing.

Is that the key – sticking to Amleth’s point of view rather than seeing his story through modern eyes, which so many contemporary period works do?

I think that’s just a shame, because you don’t really gain anything by putting contemporary morals and attitudes into a fable. I think we can learn more about who we are by actually examining where we come from. This movie isn’t 100% accurate — that’s impossible in any period, and especially something like 1,000 years ago. And I can’t be 100% biased. But I’m trying my best to represent the physical and material world as it can be, and clearly represent the “thinking” without judgment. That’s definitely what I’m trying to do.

Björk plays Seeress in the Viking epic directed by Robert Eggers Northerner

Aidan Monaghan / Focus feature

To what extent did you have to rely on CGI? It may not seem like a heavy movie, but I suspect it requires more Witch and Lighthouse.

I think people would be surprised to know the amount of CG in the first two movies, but it’s all very small and invisible stuff. With this, 85% of the footage has an effect on them and they can be as simple as removing a seat belt. I think the intention is always to try to do it as much as possible. But certainly, shooting a movie of this scale, in this day and age, it’s impossible to make everything real, just for health and safety reasons. I mentioned safety cables — back in the day you didn’t always have to use cables, and now you do.

Also, labor costs vary widely, and material costs also vary widely, so the sets are huge… I just watched Anne of the Thousand Days a few months ago, this Henry VIII movie starred Richard Burton, and it’s basically a chamber movie, but they’re building the biggest sets — even the outside settings, like the street London Street and the palace gates — to the speakers in this film’s room. You can’t do that anymore. We only built one long ship, but we photographed the long ship multiple times to include it in the same shot. For example, there is a full CG ship in the storm sequence, but we scanned a replica of a historic ship, just to land it.

Is yours Nosferatu A remake with Anya Taylor-Joy (and, at one point, Harry Styles) is still in the works? And if so, what appeals to you when re-imagining that particular classic?

That’s an IP, isn’t it? [laughs]

Good mark! Does that make it more or less a challenge?

I don’t know if it will happen; it seems as if [F.W.] Murnau doesn’t want me to do it, because it always seems to be bad. But Dracula, it is said, is the only new modern fairy tale that is truly something different, and Murnau tells it in its essential simple form as a silent film. It’s basically been a movie that’s been important to me since I was a kid. That doesn’t necessarily mean I should do it again, but it’s certainly something I’ve been obsessed with and spent a lot of time thinking about. So let’s see.

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