Review Summary: A 97 minute Sigur Ros music video.
Sigur Ros has always been known as an unclassifiable band. From releasing an album in a made up language to the use of the bow to create ambient soundscapes on an electric guitar, the music of Sigur Ros is truly unique and one-of-a-kind. Sigur Ros is also well known for releasing beautiful music videos. Untitled 1 received critical acclaim for children playing in a post-apocalyptic winterland and the music video for Glosoli artfully showed a drummer boy leading a pack of children off a cliff. So when I heard that Sigur Ros was going to release a documentary, Heima (meaning home), about all the free shows they gave in Iceland last summer, I was rather excited.
I usually am not a big fan of dvds put out by artists. Sometimes I enjoy watching for the musicianship or to see if I am playing the song like the guitarist in the band is playing his song. Yet for the most part, I am put off by the narcissism that is sold on dvds. I don't enjoy listening to why the artist thinks they are cool and why we as a fan base should think they are cool. In contrast, while there are interviews with the band on Heima, Sigur Ros comes off as happy people who enjoy their homeland.
The documentary starts off with an introduction where it shows Sigur Ros t-shirts being made. The colors are vibrant and the mood is ethereal. In between the shots of t-shirt-making comes pictures of a stage with a semi-transparent sheet in front of it. As Sigur Ros starts playing Glosoli, the lights dim and flood lights shine from behind the band to create shadows on the sheet hanging in front of the stage. A data projector projects unfocused images and colors onto the front of the sheet with a heavenly effect. As the song plays, video of rivers and streams all throughout Iceland are interposed. Halfway through the song the video is played backwards and a haunting waterfall starts to catch the water it had long thrown away. The mixture of live performance and shots of nature is truly breathtaking.
Sigur Ros continues with the song Se Lest; a song full of xylophone, in which at the end a marching band plays horns as it marches through an Icelandic town. The blue uniforms shine against a backdrop of a dreary-looking countryside and red houses.
The first two songs set a high bar for the songs that follow and yet each new song brings with it visually stunning views of Iceland. The beauty in this disc is that the video taken of Iceland is mainly of things that are either normal looking, or decrepit and decaying. Some of the songs such as Von, are played in intimate settings where the camera spends most of the time looking at the expressions on the faces of the audience as opposed to watching the band. There is something all-encompassing about listening to a song while watching somebody else listening to the same song. There are times such as in Agaetis Byrjun where a child runs around and tries to play with the band as they are performing the song. In both circumstances, a normal setting and normal people create a palette that Sigur Ros uses to portray beauty.
At other times, Sigur Ros uses run-down objects for their visuals. In Heysatan, Sigur Ros plays outside next to an abandoned house and a rusted tractor. However, the house and tractor are used to portray the haunting and subtle music of the song. In addition, Sigur Ros put on a free concert at an abandoned fish factory that has a giant rusting ship beached right outside. Yet with the soundscapes of Sigur Ros weaving throughout its rafters, the factories giant catacombs turn into a warm and welcoming cave.
If 97 minutes of Sigur Ros was not enough, Sigur Ros provided almost two hours of full length performances on the second disc. This disc is essentially all the source material for the documentary. Songs like Glosoli, Se Lest, Agaetis Byrjun, and Heysatan are almost the same as on the first disc. The only addition might be a couple more pictures of Iceland. Disc 2 is still interesting in that there is more footage of places from around Iceland such as a house-museum about Icelandic music, to a church literally in the middle of nowhere. While the second disc is very good, I recommend watching the main feature a couple times before jumping to the next disc because disc 2 is unedited and very choppy between songs whereas disc one seamlessly flows from song to song.
Heima is vibrant and is filled with shots from Iceland. The images of Iceland are lush, rich, and beautiful as the compositions. This dvd is truly a masterpiece.