Alexander Skarsgård charges into battle in this exclusive image from The Northman

Alexander Skarsgård stars as Amleth in The Northman
(Image credit: Aidan Monaghan/Focus Features)

Director Robert Eggers’ last two feature films – The Witch (opens in new tab) and The Lighthouse (opens in new tab) – have been utterly unique period pieces. For his next, he’s drastically ramping up the scale for a full-on historical epic that’s set to be every bit as gritty and distinctive as his previous efforts.

Starring Alexander Skarsgärd as vengeance-seeking Viking prince Amleth, The Northman has a far grander sweep than the contained intensity of The Witch or The Lighthouse. "It was intimidating and daunting," writer/director Eggers tells Total Film (opens in new tab) magazine of upscaling from the intimacy of his first two movies. You can see an exclusive new still from the film, taken from the new issue of Total Film (opens in new tab), above. 

Any filmmaker whose first films are so exemplary is going to be granted bigger toys by a studio, and a Viking picture lends itself to vast landscapes and sweeping battles. "I was utterly terrified, but it’s a major privilege to be able to do something like this," Eggers continues. "It’s been exciting. The studio let me use all my head of departments from my last two films, and I was able to work with the top Viking historians in the world, which was incredible."

Based on the story of Amleth, by Danish author Saxo Grammaticus, who wrote in Latin, The Northman tracks Alexander Skarsgård’s prince Amleth as he seeks to pursue vengeance for his murdered father. If that bare-bones outline sounds rather familiar, it’s because Shakespeare nicked it for Hamlet. But whereas the Bard’s conflicted hero pondered and procrastinated at every turn, this “ancient, primitive” take on Amleth, coauthored by Eggers and Sjón, sees the prince as a strapping man of action.

"The amount of discipline that Alex put into this role is crazy," Eggers tells Total Film (opens in new tab). "He transformed his body more wildly than he did in Tarzan."

The Northman is set to open in UK cinemas on April 15, before opening in the US on April 22. For more from Eggers, pick up a copy of the new issue of Total Film (opens in new tab) when it hits stands (both real and digital) on Thursday, February 3. Check out the new cover featuring The Batman, as revealed by Matt Reeves:

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Editor-at-Large, Total Film

Jamie Graham is the Editor-at-Large of Total Film magazine. You'll likely find them around these parts reviewing the biggest films on the planet and speaking to some of the biggest stars in the business – that's just what Jamie does. Jamie has also written for outlets like SFX and the Sunday Times Culture, and appeared on podcasts exploring the wondrous worlds of occult and horror.