Each writer/director has their own way of making films, and it always shows in the evolution of their work through the stages of production. Some know exactly what they are doing as soon as they complete a script; others thrive on collaboration during production to help pull together big ideas; and there are filmmakers who find the heart of their work in editing.
Robert Eggers is a perfect example of a pre-production guy, and it shows in his work. The special level of historical realism and sense of specificity in his films is achieved through detailed research and fusion of vision and is clarified in draft scripts. This has been the case for his three films so far – The witch, Lighthouseand The man from the north – although he notes that his last project was a project that evolved a bit differently, given that it was his first project where he didn’t have full authority over changes in the room assembly.
As captured in the video at the top of this story, this is all the information I recently gleaned from interviewing Robert Eggers earlier this month during the virtual press day for The man from the north. I asked the filmmaker what stage of filmmaking the new film went through the most change, and he explained why directing his third feature was a different experience…although he also noted why. there was ultimately not much the studio could actually do to change what it had created. says Eggers,
Made on a budget of $90 million (according to The New Yorker), The man from the north costs about six times the amount of money it took to make The witch and Lighthouse combined, and when you’re working with those kinds of resources in Hollywood, cost loses creative control. Focus Features clearly believed in Robert Eggers’ take on the Viking epic (hence why they produced the film), but the investment came with strings attached.
Given Eggers’ statement, this clearly had an impact on how The man from the north was completed in the editing suite, but the studio couldn’t do much with the footage it had. The director didn’t have to do tricky moves like Joe Wright did on Cyrano – set up the plans so that the best scene of the film cannot be cut; it just didn’t create an abundance of additional footage that gave Focus post-production options.
It can be scary for a filmmaker to hand over the final cut to a studio, which considers commercial viability the number one priority – but in this case, the drama has a happy ending. As I write in my CinemaBlend review of The man from the norththe film is Robert Eggers’ most accessible feature film to date, unfolding a tale of revenge older than Hamletand it’s a phenomenal, brutal cinematic achievement that features a remarkable twist from Alexander Skarsgård (which received rave reviews from critics).
The Northman created an impressive buzz the past few weeks, and now it’s finally almost here, is set to arrive in theaters everywhere on April 22. Starring Nicole Kidman, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Claes Bang, Björk and Willem Dafoe, this is one of spring’s must-see films, so head over to the film’s official website to find showtimes in your region.