The following contains spoilers for The Northman, now playing in theaters.
In Robert Eggers' The Northman, many scenes evoked the signature style of the director's previous movies. The harrowing and haunting mood -- visually and in terms of music -- harken back to The Witch and The Lighthouse, which mixed in horror, psychological tension and a sense of existential dread. Interestingly, as Alexander Skarsgård's Amleth went on his journey of revenge in this Norse epic, Eggers actually threw in an Easter egg from The Witch. However, this time, he took the most haunting scene from that movie and gave it a happy, endearing ending.
The scene in question occurred in the finale of The Witch when Anya Taylor-Joy's Thomasin sauntered off into the nearby woods after believing her family was cursed. She followed the Black Phillip goat into the forest, nude and entranced, where she found a coven holding a Witches' Sabbath around a bonfire. The witches then began levitating, with Thomasin joining and laughing maniacally, ascending above the trees. It left viewers wondering if it was a dream, if the devil had claimed her soul or if she was dead. In any case, ending the 2015 flick on a sad note was a masterstroke because the entire movie kept messing with the audience's mind on what was real or imagined.
The Northman remixed this with its own bonfire on the Icelandic island where Fjölnir had his commune in exile. Amleth infiltrated it, hoping to kill Fjölnir for murdering his dad, Aurvandill, and taking Amleth's crown away years ago. To achieve this, Amleth plotted with Olga to poison the camp. He'd play mind games, biding time until he got a window of opportunity per a mystical prophecy. But while he did this, there was one bonfire Amleth stumbled upon with the workers in the commune naked, drunk and having a blast.
They were celebrating their brief time off while Amleth looked for Olga. And when she found him, she took him away from the flames, finding a cozy spot where they'd consummate their love. It was sentimental because she found warmth and protection in his arms, which brought full circle how he changed from the savage whose cult pillaged her village. And while it's never made clear, this encounter is likely what resulted in Olga getting pregnant and telling Amleth they needed to flee the island and restart their lives.
Sadly, Amleth would stay and die with his family, ensuring his uncle couldn't track his children. But it was still a happy ending because Olga got away via boat and supernatural visions that plagued Amleth for the entire film confirmed she'd have twins and restore his royal bloodline. Thus, as Amleth's soul ascended into Valhalla, kickstarted by this bonfire, it felt more hopeful than The Witch, which revolved more around darkness than light and renewal.
See how The Witch's bonfire gets a happier ending in The Northman, now playing in theaters.