A film appreciation and curation project dedicated to championing outstanding cinema


Directed by

Justin Kurzel
113 mins

Viking extravaganza The Northman arrives in UK cinemas today to levels of anticipation bordering on feverish. As film lovers we are not fortunate enough to live in an age that encourages auteur filmmaking so when someone like Robert Eggers comes along, a filmmaker who has managed to establish himself as a distinct voice in only two feature films, The Witch and The Lighthouse, we make sure to pay attention.


For his ambitious third feature, a Hamlet-inspired Nordic epic which he described as “Conan the Barbarian by way of Andrei Rublev”, Eggers ventured into unfamiliar territory to work under the umbrella of Universal as opposed to the relative comfort zone of filmmaker-friendly indie studio A24. There were fears that Eggers succumbed to Universal’s demands and the artistic integrity of the film was compromised but to the relief of his growing fanbase, he has confirmed the final cut is very much his.


This week’s Friday Night Film pick champions another recent reinterpretation of a seminal Shakespeare text – Justin Kurzel’s MACBETH. Likewise with what Eggers has managed to achieve with The Northman, Kurzel’s singular artistic vision was successfully transmitted to a big-budget production with a star-studded cast and large-scale action set pieces.


While Kurzel honours Shakespeare’s original verse, the text is stripped back and it’s through the film’s stark stylization and surreal sensibility that makes this Shakespeare adaptation stand out like no other. A very familiar ancient tale told with vivid sensory intensity and a brooding mood that never lets up.


As with The Northman, Macbeth revels in the nihilism of its medieval-set tragedy and gothic overtones. Cinematographer Adam Arkapaw, whose other standout work includes the first season of True Detective, conjures an apocalyptic visual landscape – blood-red skies, vistas of gloom and darkness, dread-filled hypnotic compositions – that all aide the film’s nightmarish tone of doom and despair.