Director Robert Eggers likened the single-camera filming process of his latest project The Northman to that of choreographing a musical theater number – except with a lot more blood and guts.
Eggers told Collider about the 90-second ‘invasion of the village’ scene, likening it to choreographing a musical.
“Well, I mean, in some ways it’s like choreographing a musical, but it requires a lot more blood. What can I say? You start with the main action, which is everything that Amleth is going to do. And then you just keep having to go layer, layer, layer, layer, layer, of all the extras, all the stunt guys, all the horses, the goats, the chickens, the geese, the sheep, the children.”
He goes on to say that while there were no time steps or pirouettes it took an enormous amount of playing that really paid off.
“We are building a village from scratch to accommodate where the camera’s going to be and to accommodate every beat in the action. It’s a whole lot of work. I’ve never planned something so meticulously in my life, but there was no way to get around that. There’s no way to get around that planning. But the irony is that there were some simpler scenes that were harder to shoot because they didn’t get the same amount of TLC.”
The Northman tells the story of the Icelandic legend of Prince Amleth who would go on to become the inspiration for William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet. Prince Amleth, played by Alexander Skarsgård, witnesses the murder of his father King Aurvandill by his uncle Fjölnir. He vows to one day get his revenge no matter the cost. Eggers went to extraordinary lengths to create a historically accurate portrayal of the harsh realities of Viking life.
This film is set to be released in theaters on April 21.