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The Northman Scene That Went Way Too Far

Critically acclaimed horror director Robert Eggers makes a turn toward the mainstream with his newest movie, "The Northman." The Viking revenge saga centers on Amleth (Alexander Skarsgård), a prince who flees his homeland when his father, King Aurvandill (Ethan Hawke) is murdered by Amleth's uncle, Fjölnir. A young Amleth escapes with his life and vows to return one day to avenge his father, save his mother from Fjölnir's brutality, and kill Fjölnir in turn.

It's possible to argue that the entirety of "The Northman" goes way too far. Movie enthusiasts who are not fans of surreal, horrific, or violent and disturbing imagery might not mesh well with any Robert Eggers film, though fans of the director's work can rest assured it's no stranger or scarier than anything on-screen in "The Witch" or "The Lighthouse." As the visionary director recently told The New Yorker, his vision of a revenge story that audiences have seen before in blockbusters like "Gladiator" or "Braveheart" remains distinctly weirder, even for a movie aimed at a mainstream audience. 

"The Northman" takes place in the 10th century and depicts a violent society where kings are deposed, bands of Viking warriors take villages by force, and one-on-one duels are fought naked at the base of active volcanoes. Amleth himself kills dozens of times on his quest for vengeance, but one particular act of violence takes things to another level entirely.

Amleth presents the mutilated bodies of his victims

When Amleth arrives in Iceland disguised as a slave, he makes an agreement with Olga (Anya Taylor-Joy) to help take his revenge on Fjölnir. Amleth first wins the trust of Fjölnir, Gudrún, and their two sons before revealing his identity by saving their youngest son, Gunnar, from a would-be murderer. It's not until after Amleth is granted more "privileges" as a slave that he starts taking lives by night as the first act of his gloriously brutal revenge, utterly bewildering Fjölnir and his subjects. After a night of Amleth's rampages, the village wakes up to find that their as-of-yet unknown assailant has mutilated the bodies of multiple victims and displayed them for everyone to see.

It's a scene of pure body horror, as disturbing as any horror movie (including some of Eggers' own). Amleth's display of horrifying cruelty falls in line with the film's overall theme of a man losing himself on his way to vengeance. The display terrifies the village, particularly Fjölnir's son Thorir. What's worse: One of the bodies Amleth cruelly displays belongs to Thorir's good friend, making the spectacle land even harder.