ControversyThe Northman Controversy: A Book that Sought to "Reclaim Viking History from...

The Northman Controversy: A Book that Sought to “Reclaim Viking History from White Supremacists.”

The new Viking Hollywood blockbuster The Northman, starring Nicole Kidman and Anya Taylor-Joy, has been appropriated by white nationalists.

An epic historical drama based on a brutal retribution story from Viking legends, released today in theatres around the country. Director Robert Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse).

However, the movie’s “all-white cast,” which includes Alexander Skarsgard and Ethan Hawke, and its “pure macho clichés” have already made it a favorite of white nationalists.

The Northman: Norsemen, Nazis, and the Truth about Their Past

the northman controversy

The film The Northman is an adaptation of the Norse legend that inspired Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the story of Amleth, a Viking prince who seeks vengeance for the murder of his father.

The film is inspired by Viking history and does not sugar coat the cruelty that era brought, but it is not a true depiction of the subject.

The Observer says that at the London premiere of the film, Eggers said he intended to “reclaim” Viking history and Norse mythology from white extremists.

The public is fascinated by the Vikings because they are seen as both foreign and familiar; as conquerors and barbarians; as idealized noble savages; as white, conquering raiders rather than multiethnic traders.

Later, in an interview, he revealed that the negative connotations he had with the topic almost prevented him from pursuing it at all.

Eggers explained that he had always avoided studying this period because the masculine stereotypes associated with it, combined with the right-wing misappropriation of Viking culture, had made him sick to his stomach.

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The Viewpoint of Dorothy Kim

the northman controversy

At this point, unless you intentionally distinguish yourself from the alt-portrayal rights of the medieval past, you may wind up just perpetuating them, as pointed out by Dorothy Kim, an Asian American medieval literature lecturer at Brandeis University in Massachusetts.

She explained that “references to the Middle Ages are now a more generalized indication of the alt-right.” The focus here isn’t on nitpicking historical accuracy or speculating on the modern-day significance of medieval artifacts to various interest groups.

The goal, rather, is to have as many of them in one place as possible in order to draw the most media attention, to plant the most visible “I am a white supremacist” flags possible, and to activate other white supremacist terrorists around the world.

While Eggars’ film is not explicitly racist or sexist, it may still inspire violence against minorities because of its largely white and heterosexual cast.

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The Next Viking Blockbuster from Hollywood Has Been Appropriated by White Nationalists

the northman controversy

In 2017, the Washington Post reported that white supremacist Jeremy Christian had posted “Hail Vinland” before killing two men in Portland, Oregon. Christian had long held a fascination with Viking culture.

According to author David Parry, the island that we know to be off the coast of North America was given the name “Vinland” by a group of Vikings commanded by Leif Erikson in the 10th century.

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“The idea of Vinland is used by white nationalists to stake a claim to the entire North American continent, but notably the area between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

One could say that “they utilize the myth of Vinland to portray themselves as virtuous defenders in the races and religions wars they believe are coming.”

The American white nationalists, he continued, “want to make Vinland great again, building out an imaginary past in which Vikings are the legitimate conquerors of North America, locked in endless conflict with the Skraelings, the Viking slur for indigenous people.”


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