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The Northman 2021

Direction Robert Eggers 

Cinematography: Jarin Blaschke 

Choreography: Marie-Gabrielle Rotie 

Rotie worked on the movement for the berserkers, for Alexander Skarsgard, for Anya Taylor Joy in a circle dance in the woods, and with Willem Dafoe as the court fool with the mummers.

The Bersekers material 

The choreography drew upon research into Viking history and images, and pagan dance traces such as found in Morris and mummer dancers.  As there is no actual record remaining of any Viking or Berserker dance, Rotie created material for  Robert Eggers through a meticulous research-led process.  Rotie  previously also lectured extensively with the late pagan historian Ken Rees on Earth Mysteries, Paganism, Witchcraft and mythology so has a thorough relevant knowledge of rite, rituals and artefacts in Europe, that was helpful to the research process. She drew upon her previous experience of exploring animal transformation and led research workshops with dancers and actors and stunt men and She then crafted  the final movement  sequences from various languages  that mainly issued from her Butoh-informed processes, drew upon viking imagery, martial type movement and  human and animal transformation, to evoke the rage, strength and bestiality.  The actor and stunt cast, including Alexandar Skaargard received personal training from Rotie in working with evoking possession through internal impulses, articulating the animal through an inner to outer transformation with particular emphasis on the torso and back as the locus for an animal rage, and the working with breath and voice to conjure an insane edge between laughter, rage and bestiality. 


 The final movement sequence changed considerably in terms of formations and tempo, on the night of fiming, due to such considerations as the fire, the spatial location, the weather and the input of Robert Eggers in his directorial vision. The scene took over seventeen takes to film, with ardous and challenging conditions, but the final vision is a very original and intense moment in cinema history. 

Articles mentioning the Choreography for The Northman

''To date best interpretation of a berserker ritual. Men conjuring up the Hamr of the wolf spirit. The older man representing Odin pulled directly from Sutton Hoo plates. No mushrooms or anything. Simply a great interpretation'' 

My and my boyfriend watched this film together in theaters and I had already been well versed in old Norse culture. This scene shook me to my core. I could tell the audience could feel fear and confusion from the raw and unbridled power stemmed by a civilization and a subculture long past, but for me and my better half I could feel both our Nordic bloodlines coursing and feeling the primitive power of his loss, grief and letting nature do the rest. I hope to raise our children to view this movie at some point and remind them this was their grandfathers from thirty generations before on both sides. And this was what happened to them when they were outcasts. 

BEST scene in cinema in a long time

This scene is one of the best things I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It’s so hypnotic, strange and visceral. You FEEL that battle rage and violence as they scream.

Somehow this scene just stuck with me the most out of the entire movie. I find myself watching it at least once a month since the movie come out. No idea why.

(comments from

all images: Aidan Monaghan 

The Northman official site Focus Features 

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