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laist.com review of 'heima'
(gagrnýi)

it was impressed on me from the get-go, "heima" is the icelandic term for "at home" or "homeland". in sigur rós' first film ever, due out november 20th, "lilo & stitch" co-director dean deblois takes a quirky approach to documenting their 2006 return to iceland. after touring the world in support of their 2005 release takk, sigur rós planned a series of free, largely unannounced concerts as a means to give back to their homeland. the premise of the act is simple: paying it forward to the unspoiled land that shaped the band's ethereal music.

in keeping with that notion, deblois captures sigur rós in their natural habitat, free from the pressures of touring the world. at times, the sweeping hi-def photography verges a planet earth-style "visit iceland" campaign. scenic panoramas are spliced with intimate live performances and revealing interviews, which are seamlessly linked by unconventional segues. the most immoderate of which is extremely loud, long feedback used to represent the stress incurred by touring the world. what an unfortunate inclusion. nevertheless, deblois' candid interviews prove to be the most successful attempts at uncloaking the band to date.

as they trek into the middle of nowhere, abandoned herring oil tanks, caves, highlands, protest camps, and many other abandoned locations quickly become extemporaneous rehearsal studios. watching sigur rós perform such expansive songs virtually unplugged in primitive, bucolic locations reveals the true nature of their homespun laissez-faire philosophy. these momentous, impromptu performances serve as acts of utmost gratitude to all of iceland, from the commoners of the countryside to the urbanites in the country's capital reykjavik.

the culmination of the ninety minute documentary is a stunning, plugged-in performance in their hometown reykjavik. with around 25,000 in attendance and a premiere football league game postponed, the notion of their national hero identity becomes far more palpable. you get the feeling like they're nothing without iceland and vice versa. the inextricable relationship between sigur rós and their "heima" becomes solidified in the heart of this unassuming country more so than anywhere else throughout the fifteen location stint.

one scene remains vividly in my memory because i feel it encapsulates the impetus of this loose-documentary. as though summoning the mellifluous notes from the surrounding cave, sigur rós stands in a line hunched over a homemade stone marimba, striking away with mallets. the spur-of-the-moment jam is so playful that it evokes laughter from an audience. however, ultimately the scene leaves you ruminating on the band. while engulfed in the very rock from which sigur rós derive these dulcet tones, it's hard not to draw epiphanic correlations. only a place so isolated and rural could give birth to such awe-inspiring avant-gardism. this is the type of whimsical phenomena that heima captures. deblois has constructed the single most intimate, aesthetically appealing music documentary this year.

(joshua pressman)

 

 

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