Robert Eggers in The Northman: Directing is a “Crazy” Job

The 38-year-old director is honing his craft with stylized art house films like the horror-tinged “The Witch,” for which Eggers won Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival.

And the black-and-white “The Lighthouse,” which stars Robert Pattinson and William Dafoe.

Robert Eggers in The Northman: Directing is a “Crazy” Job

This is the tipping moment where an independent director either gives in to the pressure to make a superhero film or makes the move to a streaming service in quest of greater autonomy over production.

In its place, Eggers put in “Northman,” a $70 million Viking story that opened in theatres on Friday.

Prince Amelith (Alexander Skarsgard), a skilled swordsman, watches as his uncle (Ethan Hawke) murders his father (Ethan Hawke) and then takes his mother (Nicole Kidman) to a little village in Iceland.

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The Story Is Less Complex

The story is less complex than in previous Eggers movies, but that doesn’t mean the filmmaking is any less impressive.

Making “The Northman” was certainly not a breeze, what with the director’s disputes with production company New Regency for creative freedom and the difficulty of coordinating massive outdoor combat.

The film was ready to begin shooting in March of 2020, but the epidemic set the schedule back several months.

Can We Consider Robert Eggers to Be an Extinct Species?

Sure enough, people like Robert Egger are going the way of the dinosaur. In order to make meaningful stories, he is one of the last directors who is willing to take risks.

Though Hollywood has become increasingly focused on producing predictable blockbusters at the expense of innovative filmmaking, Eggers has remained true to his vision and created groundbreaking films.

With novels like The Witch and The Lighthouse, Eggers has shown that he is not afraid to try new things, which is a quality I greatly like.

Eggers is a breath of fresh air in an increasingly stale industry, and more filmmakers with his sensibilities are needed.


In his debut feature, the Sundance smash hit The Witch (which cost $4 million), Robert Eggers etched a human conflict between Puritanism and the occult in 17th-century New England, using only early modern English.

A surrealist survival nightmare drenched in sea salt and maritime language, The Lighthouse jumbles toxic masculinity, fart jokes, and octopus-punching.

This is the kind of filmmaking that inspires auteurist cults, but it typically doesn’t get Hollywood studios to hand over a wad of cash for a massive hit.