Robert Eggers, who started his career in New York theater, is now known for the instant classic horror film The Witch and the award-winning The Lighthouse. Fans of his work have reason to celebrate now with the release of his newest project, The Northman, a historical fiction odyssey based on Scandinavian lore. Eggers co-wrote the upcoming film with Sjón, who is a renowned Icelandic poet and novelist. The project is rooted in the legend of Amleth, which was the direct inspiration for William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgård plays Viking prince Amleth, son of Queen Gudrún (Nicole Kidman) and King Aurvandill (Ethan Hawke). Amleth is on a lifelong quest for vengeance after the murder of his father by the hand of his uncle, Fjölnir, played by Danish actor Claes Bang. Golden Globe Award-winner Anya Taylor-Joy, who previously worked with Eggers on The Witch, stars as a supporting character, Olga, who meets Amleth on his harrowing journey. The notable cast includes Willem Dafoe as Heimir the Fool, Icelandic singer Björk as the Seeress, and Kate Dickie as Halldora the Pict.
Full of bloodlust, gory fight sequences, and the harsh reality of the Viking Age, alongside Eggers’s taste for entertaining horror, The Northman is a unique thriller that will keep audiences on edge as Amleth risks all to avenge his father’s name and reclaim his kingdom. That said, this isn’t the only story to transport viewers into a different time or even the only tale to experiment with Vikings. In honor of The Northman now being available to stream on Peacock, here’s our list of eleven movies that capture similar vibes as The Northman, whether in terms of the genre, time period, or plot.
The 13th Warrior
A combination of fiction and historical accounts, The 13th Warrior is a 1999 epic that illuminates what follows when one world meets another. Award-winning actor Antonio Banderas plays real-life Ahmad ibn Fadlan, a 10th-century Muslim traveler, who becomes an ambassador of Baghdad to the Vikings in Volga Bulgars. His role as an ambassador quickly changes when he joins a team of Viking warriors, becoming their thirteenth warrior and thereby fulfilling prophecy. John McTiernan, who is known for Die Hard, directs the film which sheds a realistic light on the Viking Age in ways The Northman does.
Audiences venture into Scandinavian Scotland with the 2009 film Valhalla Rising. Dr. Hannibal Lector actor Mads Mikkelson stars as a captive Norse warrior who’s aptly known as One-Eye. A young boy, played by Maarten Stevenson, helps One-Eye escape. The fleeing duo joins a team of Christian Crusaders who recruit them to take the crusade to the Holy Land. The historical fiction piece’s title is a Viking spin on the Kenneth Anger films Scorpio Rising and Lucifer Rising. Valhalla Rising is a violent journey into the past, with One-Eye reminding viewers of The Northman’s own warrior, Amleth, in terms of skill and vengeance. Nicolas Winding Refn, who is known for Drive and The Neon Demon, directs the film.
The Last King
Sámi director Nils Gaup directs the 2016 Norwegian film The Last King. The movie’s events are based on the true story of the Birkebeiner rebels who managed to rescue the true heir to the Norwegian throne, Haakon Haakonsson, by delivering him safely from Lillehammer to Trondheim. The Last King begins with the Baglers usurping King Haakon in Norway in 1204. The king is prepared for this, however, and sends two Birkebeins, Torstein (Kristofer Hivju) and Skjervald (Jakob Oftebro), to protect his secret heir. The Last King, based on even more truth than The Northman, is a worthy watch for its depiction of medieval drama and the survival of a royal bloodline.
Next up is the Golden Globe-winning 2015 historical survival drama, The Revenant. The film is largely based on a Michael Punke novel and 1915 poem “The Song of Hugh Glass,” both of which tell the story of frontiersman Hugh Glass, whose life is shrouded in legend and myth. Three-time Golden Globe winner Leonardo DiCaprio brings Glass to life as the fur trapper guiding his party through the Dakota wilderness in 1823. Brutally mauled by a grizzly bear, his party, now led by John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), leaves him to die from his wounds. Like Amleth in The Northman, Glass defies the odds and makes a death-defying journey to seek his revenge. The Revenant is directed and co-written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who is known for his work on the Death Trilogy.
There can’t be a list of violent revenge films, especially historical ones, without mentioning the 2000 drama Gladiator. Russell Crowe won an Academy Award for his role as Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius in this film. In 180 AD, Emperor Marcus Aurelius intends to give power over the empire to Maximus rather than his own son, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix). Upon discovering this, Commodus kills his father, becomes Emperor, and crucifies Maximus’s wife and son. Maximus is then stripped of his station and hope as he is trained to be a gladiator. Despite being an enslaved warrior for entertainment, Maximus plots his revenge on Commodus, reminding viewers of Amleth’s grit and resolve. Ridley Scott, who also directed Alien and Blade Runner, directs the award-winning and bloody masterpiece.
Mel Gibson directs, co-produces, and stars as the lead in the 1995 film Braveheart. The story is based on the First War of Scottish Independence, which was partially led by the Scottish knight known as William Wallace. A 15th-century minstrel, known as Blind Harry, wrote the epic poem The Actes and Deidis of the Illustre and Vallyeant Campioun Schir William Wallace approximately 172 years after Wallace’s death and served as a major inspiration for Braveheart.
Gibson plays a vengeful Wallace who, after the deaths of his loved ones at the hands of English invaders, leads a rebellion against King Edward I. Amleth leads a similar revolt against usurping powers in The Northman. Braveheart won five Academy Awards, three BAFTA Awards, and one Golden Globe Award.
The Count of Monte Cristo
Kevin Reynolds, who directed Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Fandango, and more recently Risen, directs the 2002 drama and adventure film The Count of Monte Cristo. The film is a cinematic adaptation of French author Alexandre Dumas’s classic novel of the same name. Jim Caviezel, known for The Passion of Christ and Person of Interest, plays the wrongly imprisoned Edmund Dantés. Over the course of several years, Dantés escapes prison, finds fortune, and returns to France with a new name–Count of Monte Cristo. With this disguise, he seeks revenge on those who betrayed him. While a less violent tale of vengeance compared to The Northman, The Count of Monte Cristo features one man’s clever long game to retrieve what was stolen from him.
Conan the Barbarian
Twentieth-century American author Robert E. Howard created the character Conan the Barbarian, who would later be the inspiration for the 1980s films featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2011, Marcus Nispel directed the reboot, titled Conan the Barbarian. The film follows Conan (Jason Momoa), son of a barbarian chieftain, who sees his entire tribe murdered by a zealous warlord, Khalor Zym (Stephen Lang). Zym is on a mission of necromancy, and Conan embarks on a quest to stop Zym at all costs while seeking revenge for his tribe. Conan the Barbarian is a markedly different film on this list, as it is considered high fantasy or part of the sword and sorcery genre. Nonetheless, it holds similarities with The Northman’s Amleth in that Conan is a rugged and violent warrior whose entire story revolves around vengeance.
Like The Northman, the tale of Beowulf stems from legend. The Old English epic Beowulf inspired English authors Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary to write the screenplay for the 2007 film Beowulf. Ray Winstone plays the titular character, the Geatish warrior Beowulf, who travels to Denmark upon King Hrothgar’s (Anthony Hopkins) summons. The king assigns Beowulf to slay the man-beast Grendel (Crispin Glover) as justice for murder and to defend the kingdom. Beowulf succeeds, only to incur the wrath of Grendel’s mother (Angelina Jolie), a demon. Beowulf is the only film on this list that isn’t live-action-filmed but created with 3D computer animation.
The mysterious disappearance of the Imperial Roman legion, Legio IX Hispana, in 120 AD inspired the 1954 novel The Eagle of the Ninth, which Jeremy Brock then adapted into the 2011 historical fiction film The Eagle. Channing Tatum stars as Marcus Flavius Aquila, a Roman centurion, whose father was part of the Ninth Legion that disappeared. Determined to restore the honor of his father’s name, Marcus journeys to Scotland to retrieve the legion’s eagle standard. On this quest, he risks his life and that of his slave, Esca, a Brigante who originated from Britain. Less on a mission of revenge compared to The Northman, and more of one restoring honor, The Eagle is an exciting adaptation that gives the lost Ninth Legion an alternative ending.
Danish director Kristian Levring directed the 2014 Western movie The Salvation. Mads Mikkelsen, who also led Valhalla Rising on this list, is a Danish man, Jon, who immigrates to America in 1864 with his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt). Jon’s family arrives on the continent only to be brutally murdered by a team of convicts. Jon kills these felons, stirring up the wrath of one of the dead’s brethren, Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan)—a powerful land baron who will use all his assets to destroy Jon. Like The Northman in its portrayal of Nordic lands and the Viking age, The Salvation presents a brutal and realistic depiction of the Western Frontier and its lawless ways of justice.