The Northman (2022)

Prince Amleth is on the verge of becoming a man when his father is brutally murdered by his uncle, who kidnaps the boy's mother. Two decades later, Amleth is now a Viking who's on a mission to save his mother, kill his uncle and avenge his father.
Full Certification

  Animal Action

Poster for The Northman
The Northman
Release Date: April 26, 2022
Certification: Full Certification

In the opening scene where we see a raven fly towards an island in the distance, they filmed this on a bluescreen, then they superimposed their image into the final cut.

In the scene where we see a line of horsemen entering a gate and into a bucolic village, prior to shooting the scene, the horses were unloaded, hayed and watered and were allowed to rest prior to filming. On action, the actors and wranglers rode the horses on a trail up to the village. The goats and cows in the background were also watered and provided food.

In the scene where the king rides his horse into a banqueting hall, this scene was filmed in a stage. On arrival to the studios, the horse was unloaded next to the set and straight onto rubber matting which covered the studio floor for his safety. In this same scene we see a man approach the king with a falcon and another man approaches flanked by two dogs, the wolfhounds and falcon arrived to set and placed in their holding areas by their trainers. Prior to filming the scene, the trainers handed the actors the animals and prepped them for the scene. After they filmed the scene, the animals were brought back to their holding areas.

In the scene where the actor is surrounded by men on horseback in the snow, the horses traveled for half an hour to the location from the production stables. The horses were in excellent health and were fully vaccinated, passported and blood tested. There were ample handlers to care for the horses and the horses had access to fresh water, feed and hay. The American Humane rep made sure all trails and walking areas were cleared of hazards. The men on horseback were all trained in riding horses.

In the scene, where the Vikings attack a village, and a man jumps over a fence, and jumps on a man on horseback, taking him down, the ambush/battle was filmed over six days. The “horse fall” was filmed in two segments for safety reasons. The horse fall also was approved and overseen by American Humane after many meetings. On action, the actor was taken off the horse by a rig. In the second take, the horse fell into a soft pit. In the same scene we also see geese and chickens in the background. They were strategically placed to avoid actors and action. The actors were all made aware of animals and their placement in the scene.

After the battle when the man walks around the muddy village and we see men on horseback, dogs and chickens, All the horses were tacked up and dressed at the horse holding area. They were led to set by their costumed handlers. The background animals were not bought to set until the first three rehearsal were undertaken. They were then led or carried from the on location holding enclosures. There were eight rehearsals in total the first three rehearsals were undertaken section by section, there were a large number of extras, children, elderly and babies on set for this scene so it was carefully planned and rehearsed.

In the scene when we see a raven land on a statue, bird remained in a stationery position throughout looking straight at camera. The bird filled most of the frame and the background action continued as before. The raven’s ‘fly in’ and landing on the skull will be filmed as a separate element with VFX. The horses remained in their stationery held positions throughout as before.

In the scene where the slaves are led onto man’s farm and we see cows, pigs, sheep, chickens and horses in the background, all the animals were led to set by costumed handlers. The horses were led to set from a lower holding area, they arrived early to give the horses time to rest and become acclimatized to the environment. Hay, water and rugs were also bought up to set. The horses were held in a quiet area away from set. The two paddock horses Bob and Ed were released into the on set paddock and could graze at liberty, costumed handler remained with the two horses at all times. The sheep and lambs worked at liberty in the sheep pen with costumed handler caring for them. All the animals were for background purposes only and no interaction with the actors.

The fox in the film was created through CGI.

In the scene where two men sit in a cage and one of them pulls out a huge snake, prior to filming the snake was held in a quiet holding area just off set. When called to set the handler carried him in his thermo box, then handed him to the actor. The sorcerer actor had spent time with the snake previously and was confident and happy to handle the him.

In the scene when the dog approaches the actor and barks at him, prior to shooting the scene, the actors got to know the dog. The dog rehearsed several times. On action, the dog approached the actor, stopped at its mark and barked. He was cued by his trainer who stood off-camera.

In the scene where the man walks out of a hut, and two men lead two pigs past him, the two pigs were driven to set, and brought to enclosure where they were let loose and allowed to work at liberty. A trainer, brought pigs to set. On action, he simply walked them past the actor.

In the scene where the dog attacks his owner and the man kills the dog, the man doubling for the actor played with the dog and was acclimated to him prior to shooting the scene. Archie was given time to become acclimatized to the set and the filming environment before a rehearsal was undertaken. On action, the dog was cued by his trainer off-camera to bark. The trainer then used a toy to get the dog to approach the camera, as if he were threating the actor. There were no actors on set and the animal part will be added post ed. When the dog attacks the actor and jumps on him, the stunt double wore a green suit which would represent the actor. On cue, the dog barked at the double who held a trigger grab toy. On the second cue, the dog jumped the two foot distance towards the double who was holding a toy. The double play fought with the dog who was biting the toy. The double fell to the floor and rolled and play acted fighting on the floor. This was all filmed on green screen so they could add atmosphere and the actor’s image in post. The action will be added to the scene post ed by the VFX team.

In the scene where the ravens peck at the ropes holding the wounded man suspended above the floor, the scene was filmed against a green screen in a studio. The ravens wore soft leather anklets with fishing thread attached. Prior to filming, the trainers placed the birds on the actor’s shoulder. One bird for each shoulder. The birds were connected to the trainers by fishing wire attached to their anklets. At one point, the trainer brought more birds to set and placed them on the floor. The rest of the action was accomplished in post with VFX.

In the scene where the actors lie the horse down and the boy chops off his head (off-camera), this scene was filmed in several stages. The scene was filmed onstage against a green screen. VFX will add several visuals in post. Prior to filming
a safe horse lay down area was prepared in the studios; a large area was prepared with rubber matting, covered with grass turf. At one end of the lie area was a large green screen. Prior to filming one of the two horses was led onto the lie down area and was given time to become acclimatized to the filming environment and the special effect flame bar. The horse had been trained for many months to lie down and very quietly laid himself down on his side. The trainers kneeled next to him and petted his neck. After thirty seconds Dimple was released to get up himself. While on his side, the horse ate nuts from a trainer’s hand. The chopping off of the horse’s head was achieved by using a prosthetic horse, a prosthetic horse’s head and fake blood. There were also shots to be undertaken on green screen next week. The VFX team will mix the fake horse and live horse scene parts post ed.

In the scene where the actor rides a horse with another actor slung over the saddle, on action the tracking vehicle moved forward at canter speed (20kmph), starting at slow speeds traveling parallel with the horse pathway. The wounded man slung over the saddle was a dummy. Prior to shooting, the stunt woman mounted the horse in full costume with the dummy. On action, she cantered down a prepared straight pathway. On the final take the horses were released from set and were ridden 600m to the horse holding area where they were checked for injury and hayed and watered.All the scenes were for VFX plates and elements today.

When the man rides past an actor with dead horse, the horse was synthetic.

In the scene where the man rides a horse towards a volcano, the man on horseback was filmed against a green screen and utilized in post.

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