Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sigur Ros Documentary Heima

In many ways last night's showing of Heima felt like attending a Sigur Ros concert. Approximately a hundred fans sat quiet and observant, occasionally succumbing to the temptation to tap a foot.

Heima follows the band after their 2005/2006 Takk tour, when they performed a series of free concerts in their homeland. The best way to describe the film is eye, and ear, candy. For this viewer the film's visuals served as a introduction to the unknown world of Iceland, a world that proved as stunning and idealistic as I imagined it. Winding roads, ice-capped mountains, fields glistening with dew: the Icelandic Tourist Bureau should think about getting their hands on this film.

One of the most interesting side stories portrayed in Heima was the country's struggle for and against modernization. In one scene the band plays in a valley to protest the building of a dam as a new energy source. Ironically they are unable to plug in their instruments without electricity; thus an acoustic set is born (bjorn?).

As you would expect, the music is the film's true stand-out (check out our review of accompanying album Hvarf-Heim). Director Dean DuBlois is clearly a fan: consider the loving attention as the camera pans from performer to performer, stopping for a vibrato of strings, a crucial drumbeat. New yet faithfully rendered versions of "Starálfur" and "Ágætis Byrjun" are highlights, though nothing can top the mountainous heights of closer "Untitled No. 8." (The band seems to recognize the awesomeness of this song, as they used it to close ( ), the documentary, and 2006's Uptown Theatre show in KC -- a moment Heima blissfully returned me to.) As fellow blogger Backdrifter noted after the film, it was somewhat disappointing to hear studio acoustic versions of the songs dubbed over what could have been beautifully raw renditions. Nonetheless, the music is gorgeous, gripping.

After NPR complained about Sigur Ros giving "the worst interview in the history of electronic media," I was a little worried about how the band would fare with a documentary. Thankfully Jonsi and company did a fair job with the interview portion of the documentary, even bringing in some humor now and then. Besides, as any Sigur Ros fan knows, their music isn't about the words. It's about the feeling.

1 comment:

SonicRyan said...

Nice review. I'm definitely excited to see this film. As for "Untitled #8", its pretty much been the set closer since ( ) came out. They've closed with it each of the three times I've seen them, which gives me no doubt they recognize the awesomeness of the song. Honestly, what could they play to top it? Thats how you end a Sigur Ros show, in my opinion.