Heima – A film by Sigur Ros

Sigur Ros: Heima - posterWhen bands hit their commercial and creative peak it’s not that surprising that they might release a film or movie to, for wont of a better word, ‘cash-in’ on their success, usually in the form of a concert film documenting their current stage show.

Following the release of their album Takk and subsequent world tour in 2006, Sigur Ros did something similar but, as is probably not surprising to anyone familiar with the band, they didn’t just do the usual style concert film.

Instead they produced a documentary charting not their world tour but a follow-up tour around the small towns (and more) of their native Iceland.

The film mixes live performances in small venues around the country with short interview segments with the core band and their string section that explore the relationships between the band, their music and their home country in a way that is unchallenging but fascinating and manages to capture an essence of what Sigur Ros is about.

Sigur Ros unplugged
Sigur Ros playing outdoors

Added to this is a kind of abstract travelogue that gives a flavour of the uniqueness of Iceland as we see its varied landscapes, from barren volcanic plains to tiny, near abandoned, fishing villages to the bigger towns and cities like Reykjavik.

Rather than this being presented with in-depth exploration it comes shot and edited with an, at times, almost Lynchian quality as the sound and visuals merge to create a film that in many ways works like a visualisation of a live album.

The most striking moments come in three parts.

First when the band play in a disused and derelict fish processing factory and the shots of the performance are intercut with landscapes and archive footage of the factory and community in its prime.

Sigur Ros playing in the factory
Sigur Ros playing in the factory

Second is when they play, entirely unplugged, at a protest camp in the middle of an unspoiled wilderness (since flooded by the building of the dam being protested to create a hydroelectric power station).

And thirdly the final, full-scale, concert sequence from an outdoor show in Reykjavik that captures the band at their most sonically intense.

Really though it’s very hard to put into words quite how this exploration of the band and their home feels to watch as, like much of Sigur Ros’ music, it is a complete experience designed to wash over the senses of the audience and leave its mark in a genuinely unique way that makes for one of the captivating and expressive films put out by a band.

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