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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

You Can't Have Your Cake and Eat It Too.

The Northman on IMDb

Plot Overview

beastieIn AD 895 King Aruvandil (Ethan Hawke) returns from the North Atlantic to the island of Hrafnsey with spoils of war and tales of glory. He's curiously distant from his wife Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) but enthusiastic towards his son Prince Amleth (Oscar Novak) whom he initiates into his hereditary wolf cult with vows of vengeance on any­one who harms his liege. It's soon put to the test when Amleth's uncle Fjölnir (Claes Bang) assassinates the king before his very eyes, necessitating he flee to Rus, land of the Swedish Vikings. He grows up to be a savage fighter (Alexander Skarsgård) and receives an occult message that Fjölnir was over­thrown by Harald of Norway and is living in exile in Iceland. He passes him­self off as a slave to stowaway on a ship bound there where he intends to fulfill his destiny to avenge his father.

Researcher Bodie Hodge offers:

An interesting reflection is to be noted of Ashkenaz and the unified German peoples. Their records retain the lineage of kings that resulted from the oldest son of Noah (Japheth) and his oldest son (Gomer), to the oldest son of Gomer (Ashkenaz). This is essentially the royal post-Flood line, and we have records of these kings who reigned from Ashkenaz for nearly 1,300 years after the Flood in direct succession. Then the king­dom was split into three parts.—(162)

The German tribes migrated in all directions: north and west inhabiting Norway, Netherlands, England, Iceland (and possibly much farther)— (154)

We might add from historian J.M. Roberts:
When the last Carolingian ruler of the west Franks died in 987, this man's son, Hugh Capet, was elected king, so opening the history of a royal house which was to rule for nearly 400 years. For the rest, west Frankia dissolved into a dozen or so territorial units ruled by magnates of varying standing and independence. (114)


plowingAs the wolf cult was passed down from father to son, it may be helpful to recall its distant founder. For those not settled in the sands of time, I offer this remedial history lesson, with apologies to those who don't need it. The biblical story is widely known of Adam & Eve's temptation and fall in the Garden of Eden, how the woman ate the forbidden fruit and gave it to her husband to eat (Gen. 3:6), God responding by increasing the severity of the woman's child­birth pains (Gen. 3:16) and making man's toil onerous (Gen. 3:17-19.) What is less well known—except in places like the Bible Belt—is a redo of sorts to ameliorate man's difficult labor. Noah's father Lamech had (Gen. 5:29) “called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.” They had to follow the earlier template to get a reprieve. Instead of the forbidden tree to be respected by the first couple, there was old man Noah whose work break was to be respected by his three sons (Gen. 9:18-19) “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.” They formed them­selves into two pairs: the eldest Shem & Japheth, and the youngest Ham paired with his own son Canaan to make the numbers even. In the Genesis account of the Flood, is a mystery woman, the mother of Ham. (Gen. 6:10) “And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”

Let's look again at Noah's story (Jasher 5:14-17):
“And the Lord said unto Noah, Take unto thee a wife, and beget children, for I have seen thee righteous before me in this generation. And thou shalt raise up seed, and thy children with thee, in the midst of the earth; and Noah went and took a wife, and he chose Naamah the daughter of Enoch, and she was five hundred and eighty years old. And Noah was four hundred and ninety-eight years old, when he took Naamah for a wife. And Naamah conceived and bare a son, and he called his name Japheth, saying, God has enlarged me in the earth; and she conceived again and bare a son, and he called his name Shem, saying, God has made me a remnant, to raise up seed in the midst of the earth.”

Shem and Japheth were full brothers, Ham was born at a later date (the youngest, see Gen. 9:24) perhaps from a different mother. Noah's wife was older than he was. Perhaps at 580+ years she was no longer able to bear children after the first two. She didn't have any more after the flood, even though it was a time to repopulate the Earth. Maybe she stopped bearing before the flood. Ham could then be step­brother of the other two.

Researcher Mark DeWayne Combs posits that, “Although Jasher specific­ally references the births of Japheth and Shem, there is no such reference to the birth of Ham. … that Ham may have been much younger than his brothers and that he may have had a different mother” (389). Combs also observes, “Fathering a child, particularly a son, through a hand­maiden or servant girl would not have been an uncommon or forbidden practice in that time period” (165). Historian Kenneth M. Stampp remarks that “Apologists for slavery traced the history of servitude back to the dawn of civilization and showed that it had always existed in some form until their own day” (14).

Instead of the wily serpent we had Noah's wife as an on-the-spot influence, who since she isn't mentioned here, did well incurring no rebuke. She would have made her­self scarce and given Noah some space to relax when he started drinking from the wine he'd fermented likely as medication for Ham's ailing son Canaan, as per (1Tim. 5:23) “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities.” She then went to visit Ham to smooth over this set­back in wine supply, to advise him to water down the old supply or what­ever. If Noah's work break shorts some­one's expectations, it could easily have been those of the runt of the litter, Ham. He showed up shortly on the scene to check it out. He fell to temptation to bolster his status by mocking his dad to his two brothers, but they wouldn't go along with it. This is parallel to Eve earlier failing first then offering the forbidden fruit to Adam who accepted it, but here the oldest brothers did not go along with Ham, so we'd expect them to receive a blessing rather than a curse. Depicted below is that scene rendered in a Civil War vintage wood­cut, made after a drawing by Julius Schnorr von Carols­feld (German painter, 1794–1872) from his archive, published in 1877.

drunken Noah and his three sons

The alternate image text by licensor iStock.com/Getty Images explains what happened here to Noah and his fermented grapes: “When he drank some of the wine, he got drunk and uncovered him­self inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers who were outside. Shem and Japheth took a garment and placed it on their shoulders. Then they walked in back­wards and covered up their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so they did not see their father's nakedness (Genesis 9:21-23).”

Ham had put himself in jeopardy according to, (Prov. 30:17) “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” Especially pertinent in this case is Noah's control over the animals including the raven (Gen. 8:7) although Proverbs often gives general principles rather than specific results. Never­the­less, there is precedent when some kids mocked a man of God for not having a covering of hair on his head and they got mauled by beasts, (2Kings 2:23-24) “And … as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.”

There's a parity of eye loss and servitude given in (Exodus 21:26) “And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye's sake.” Ham and his lineage—represented by Canaan in Ham's line ipso facto receiving the same curse that need not be mentioned twice—could be given servitude rather than mutilation. This would be in keeping with the sentiment of Job in, (Job 31:7-8) “If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands; Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my off­spring be rooted out.” In that woodcut-derived picture above we see Ham after disregarding his mom's caution, checking up on his dad, getting carried away by an eyeful of the dishabille inebriate, and gesturing with his hands about it at the scene. If he were to “sow, and another eat” and his “off­spring be rooted out,” that would mean him becoming a slave and his offspring being carried away in slavery. Okay.

The Bible's account leans towards the latter. (Gen. 9:24-27) “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son [Ham] had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” When Noah woke up, he blessed as a pair the lines of his two respectful sons and cursed Ham's line—Ham paired with some­body, as is Noah's wont, his youngest son Canaan—with servitude to his other two sons'. (Jasher 73:35) “For the Lord our God gave Ham the son of Noah, and his children and all his seed, as slaves to the children of Shem and to the children of Japheth, and unto their seed after them for slaves, forever.”

More familiar in modern times is perhaps the lineage of Cush, Ham's oldest son (Gen. 10:6,) Cush meaning black in Hebrew, having settled in Africa, some to become in later years African-American slaves. Researcher Bodie Hodge confirms that, “As a general trend, Ham is the father of many peoples in Africa” (122). Dr. Ide adds, “Ham sired four sons: Cush (translates as ‘black’), Phut, Mizraim and Canaan the youngest” (62).

Hodge tells us that, “While it is likely that African peoples descended initially from Ham (Cush, Phut, and Mizraim), it is not likely that they are descended from Canaan— ¶“However, the descendants of Canaan are not the ones with the far darker shades of skin. And many of these Canaanites were wiped out and dispersed by the Israelites for their sin. Finally, consider the Chinese Sinites (Sinim) through Canaan, who have very little dark skin” (133–4).

In “The Northman” the king Fjölnir gives a royal bracelet to his son Amleth, from his booty. They take captives from far and wide. This king was descended from mongrels according to his brother who called him a “half-breed” as he killed him. His father had bred with one of the chattel, presumably a light-skinned descendent of Ham, whence his grand­son's fated servitude (“My fate has brought me here.”)

His vengeance against his uncle in Iceland is contingent upon his recovering the deadly “Night Blade” from the Mound Dweller (Ian Whyte) and getting close to his quarry through favored slave status. He dug down through the roof of the mound to procure the sword, and he prevailed impressively in a game of knattleikr hitting the ball into the goal post, to achieve his elevation. That sets him up to complete his mission, but on the verge of success he has a decision to make. According to the prophecy of the He-Witch (Ingvar Sigurdsson): “You must choose between kindness for your kin, and hatred for your enemies.”

He is like the female protagonist in a Lis Wiehl novel who declaims: “I believe the arc of history bends toward justice. I want to add my weight, my strength, to bending it” (140). Amleth is doing a little social engineering to help it along after his uncle already met poetic justice. How­ever, he runs afoul of the witch's prediction, and for that matter of wise King Solomon's saying, (Prov. 26:27) “Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.” What goes around comes around. The activist who wants to help justice along runs the risk of taking a personal hit for it. Think of folk singer Woody Guthrie whose songs elevated the working class but who suffered in his family life for being away on the road too much.

Production Values

” (2022) was directed by Robert Eggers. It was co-Written by Eggers and Sjón. It was a nod to a Scandinavian legend that was the direct inspiration for William Shakespeare's Hamlet. It stars Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman and Claes Bang. Skarsgård is a veritable force of nature & child of his stars, both savage and sensitive as the vengeful warrior-prince. Kidman gives us an in-depth portrayal of the mother torn between sons and kings. Anya Taylor-Joy is interesting in her role as lover from the forest. Bang is credible as the Brotherless villain, and there's terrific support from Ethan Hawke & Willem Dafoe.

MPAA rated it R for strong bloody violence, some sexual content and nudity. This is an engaging revenge story sporting extreme violence, a remarkable cast, and magnificent spectacle: a fantastic epic historical action drama.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

In this case I think the movie would be better than any book version of it. It really grabs one. The names are hard to remember (let alone pronounce) but the characters aren't. If you think it would appeal to you, by all means—

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

The Book of Jasher. Trans­lated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo litho­graphic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, Web.

Combs, Mark DeWayne. End the Beginning. USA: Splinter in the Mind's Eye Pub., 2014. Print.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homo­phobia and Hetero­sexism in the Flood Story and its Writing. Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.

Roberts, J.M. A History of Europe. New York: Penguin Press, 1997. Print.

Stampp, Kenneth M., Professor of American History at the University of California (Berkeley).
   The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South. Vintage Books, 1955. Print.

Wiehl, Lis. The Candidate. Copyright © 2016 by Lis Wiehl. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Pub., 2016. Print.