Universal Pictures Germany
I appreciate Robert Eggers very much because he doesn’t make any lazy compromises when striving for historical precision — and that’s why his films always feel very special, even if you don’t know the subject well enough to understand every small accurate detail in to really appreciate the equipment or the costumes. With his indie hits » The Witch » and » The Lighthouse » he mercilessly divided the audience with his radical style — but that’s what makes him so exciting as an artist.
Nevertheless, many (including me) were quite surprised when Eggers was suddenly given a blockbuster budget for his brutal, star-studded Viking revenge epic » The Northman » (now in cinemas)…
MOVIE STARTS : Where you’re in the middle of it right now, how different does it feel to be promoting a blockbuster of this magnitude compared to The Witch and The Lighthouse?
Robert Eggers: It’s not all that different yet, but we’ve only just started. However, it does feel strange when friends send me photos from London, where double-decker buses with The Northman posters drive around. Closer to the theatrical release, there will be even more marketing circus…
«The Northman» director Robert Eggers and FILMSTARTS editor-in-chief Christoph Petersen during an interview in a hotel on the Alster.
FILM STARTS: I particularly appreciate the interplay between the historical and the mythological in your films, because there doesn’t seem to be any separation for you. All the elements stand side by side on an equal footing and seem to be made of one piece even without further explanations. Does that also correspond to your personal view of history?
Robert Eggers: It corresponds above all to what the people living at the time thought about things. The Icelandic sagas were only written down after the Viking Age in the Middle Ages — and archaeologists and historians still argue today about how to interpret them in order to actually learn something about the everyday life of the Vikings.
One argument is: How can we trust these sagas when dragons and other supernatural beings suddenly appear in them? That can’t be a representation of history. My answer to that is: Because they believed it! For the Vikings, a dragon was just as real as a stone…
A historical film does not need modern morality
FILM STARTS: You don’t only get involved in the mythological, but also in the moral worldview of the Vikings. Right at the beginning of «The Northman» we experience how the protagonist is involved in atrocities that are unforgivable from today’s perspective when he raids an Eastern European village. Nevertheless, he remains the tragic hero of the story afterwards…
Robert Eggers: I hope that the audience can do both. It’s about crawling into his head and seeing things from his perspective — but that doesn’t mean you have to feel the same way he does about it. For me personally, a lot of things are even quite terrifying. But I don’t like historical films that impose a modern morality on what’s happening, because that just whitewashes the story and at the same time prevents you from learning from it. One should first represent the past as honestly as possible without judging it directly. The horror of violence is just as real today as it was in the age of the Vikings.
The Northman Trailer (2) DF