Thursday, November 29, 2007

Heima: This IS Home

I just finished watching Heima, and during it I felt that if I were to speak or move then I would destroy the most beautiful creation of light and sound I had ever seen. I admit, I had a soft spot for documentaries about bands, or really music in general, but this touched me in a way that none of the other movies had. If you are reading this blog, you are probably familiar with the sound of Sigur Rós, but if not, a link is posted below. I would describe it for you, but no one could do it justice, much less me. For those of you who don’t know the premise of the film, Sigur Rós had been touring the world to support their 2005 album Takk…, and they realized that they wanted to play some shows in their homeland, Iceland. Not only did they want to play in Iceland, they wanted only Icelanders there, so therefore, the shows, which were scattered about the country, were unannounced. Another cool thing was that they were all FREE, which ensured that Icelanders of all kinds would show up. From toddlers, to hipsters, fisherman, and the retired, Sigur Rós wanted to perform for their people. Director, Dean DeBlois, followed the group around Iceland filming their performances. Interspersed with images of streams flowing backwards, fields of fog, and grass in the wind, we can see Jón Þór Birgisson, Georg Hólm, Kjartan Sveinsson, and Orri Páll Dýrason immersing not only themselves, but also numerous people (including me) in an ethereal wave of sonic ecstasy.

Also in Heima, are several interviews with members of the band. If you keep up with Sigur Rós, or just read a lot of blogs, you may have seen the interview of Sigur Rós on NPR, and wonder why anyone would want to film an interview with Sigur Rós, but these are nothing like the NPR catastrophe. Intimate, one-on-one conversations both funny and crushing, with members of the band and others to help tell the story of Iceland, because this is not just the story of Sigur Rós, but of the country, the landscape, and the people. One man creates marimbas from extremely raw materials. One marimba is made from these pieces of shale, a rock that breaks in flakes, that each have a very resonate tone when struck with a mallet. The whole band plays a song on this geological instrument, and with great intonation. While we never get to hear it, the man is also working on a marimba made out of 100-year-old rhubarb that his grandfather planted.

I only saw the feature film; I have yet to watch all the performances in their entirety, but from the ones in the movie I was extremely impressed. The fullness and the balance of the sound that they get live floored me. They are not only studio-like in their sound with their full line of equipment, but also acoustically in a friend’s home, a coffee shop, and a completely electricity free protest show in the highlands of Iceland.

My only criticism is that it is so peaceful that it put me to sleep. I had to split the movie up by a nap in between because it was so soothing and dreamlike. After my nap, I was energized, and their energy turned my thoughts to things as inexplicably beautiful as the Icelandic mist. Check it out, but be warned that nothing will seem as beautiful for quite some time.

Sæglópur- Sigur Rós