The Northman Star Responds To Viking Movie’s White Supremacy Controversy
The Northman star Claes Bang reacts to the Robert Eggers movie having been controversially embraced by white supremacist groups online.
The Northman star Claes Bang responds to the film’s controversy surrounding white supremacy. The A24 Viking adventure film is directed by Robert Eggers of The Witch and The Lighthouse fame, and is Eggers’ highest-budget production to date. The Northman was released in April and continues its theatrical run.
Bang stars as Fjölnir the Brotherless in The Northman. The Danish actor has mostly starred in European films and TV, and played the lead role in the Oscar-nominated film The Square back in 2017. In The Northman, Bang stars alongside a cast of huge film and TV stars, including Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe, and powerhouse rising star Anya Taylor-Joy. While The Northman critical reviews have been very positive, the movie has also found itself controversially adopted by right-wing groups online, who have co-opted the movie's content into their own, white-supremacist rhetoric.
Now, in an interview with The Guardian, Bang responds to criticism of The Northman’s positive regard by extreme right-wing groups. This response was unexpected for the actor, who claims “it was not something I thought about when we were filming.” Bang explains the story is rooted in an old Danish legend, and condemns the warping of it to further racist rhetoric. Check out his full quote below:
I remember when the trailer came out around Christmas, there was this voiceover that says, ‘You have to choose between kindness for your kin or hatred for your enemy.’ And I was like, ‘Woah, wait a minute – it’s Donald Trump!’ If it is being used by white supremacist groups, I think that’s bloody horrible. It was not something I thought about when we were filming – the script is based on the Danish story of Prince Amleth, the one that Shakespeare turned into perhaps the greatest play in the world.
Despite Bang’s surprise, there is no denying the fact that The Northman has been co-opted in this way, even if he and others involved in the project condemn this. Even if very international, The Northman's all-star cast features predominantly white talent and revisits the Viking era, which has in the past been glorified by white supremacist movements. Though Eggers certainly was not intending to express such politics with his film, the violent, hyper-masculine revenge narrative has still attracted its adherents.
The trailer quote that Bang draws out is only one of the facets of The Northman that the far-right have adopted in their praise of the film, and this controversy surrounding The Northman can act as a cautionary tale for how a movie can be misconstrued in the modern era. While Eggers' heart may have been in the right place in crafting the Viking spectacle, the response from a certain subset of viewers may sour the widespread perception of the film, even if unfairly. If The Northman receives more attention and awards as the year rolls on, Bang and his castmates may see more of this controversy arise.