Sigur Rós – Heima
Review by Egill M. Arnarsson in Iceland Review Online
After the follow-up tour of Sigur Rós’s critically acclaimed LP Takk… (“Thanks…”), released in 2005, the band returned to Iceland to play a series of free, unannounced concerts in 16 remote places around the country.
By doing this the band was giving something back to the local community from which they have always had unlimited support. This documentary was filmed in 16 locations in Iceland where Sigur Rós, along with string quartet Amiina, played songs from all four of their albums in some of Iceland’s most beautiful and mystical places.
The name of the documentary Heima means “At Home” and refers to how relieved the members of the band were to be back in Iceland, a safe haven for them. Here they are left alone and all the commotion of touring from one big city to another is only a distant memory.
Because of these concerts, innumerable Icelanders will never forget the summer of 2006.
There is no way any other Icelandic band could have pulled this off. Sigur Rós’s music is a tribute to Icelandic nature and therefore it makes perfect sense to perform it outside in the sometimes overly romanticized landscape in Iceland’s countryside.
Most domestic tours by Icelandic bands involve heavy drinking of stupid teenagers, disposable tents, silly fights and jumping up and down to music which often is irrelevant; the concert is just an excuse to get drunk.
This could not be further from the truth with Heima. It is odd and unexpected to se all the members of the family enjoying music over a cup of tea and biscuits in their small local community center, having driven there on their 4x4 that same afternoon. Even newborns gazed up on stage and kids stood still in awe. Each show elegantly contrasts with its location from a ghost town fish factory to the crowded Klambratún in Reykjavík.
Every moment of the tour was captured by amazing cinematography portraying the different moods of every concert. Stunning shots of Icelandic nature were elegantly intertwined with shots of the band playing on stage, in nature or in other beautiful locations such as caves and on the steps of a small church. Combined with soft colors and smooth editing accurately following the pace of the music, the entire documentary is mesmerizing.
Icelandic cinematographers could learn a thing or two from this documentary because never before has Icelandic nature looked so good in a motion picture. This was to be expected because Sigur Rós’s videos have always been stunning and true to Icelandic nature and culture.
The documentary also features bits of interviews with Sigur Rós and Amiina. With cute Icelandic accents members of both bands explain how they feel when playing together and then describe their favorite locations.
A member of Amiina speaks of the magical moment when the wind calmed down exactly when they started to play an acoustic show at Kárahnjúkar in the eastern highlands (where Iceland’s largest dam is located). As soon as they finished the wind weirdly began to blow again.
It was also fun to see how the local communities made contributions to the concerts, including the brass band of Ísafjördur, a small choir from in the East Fjords and a man who spends all of his time making instruments out of flat rocks and rhubarb plants.
If one wants to learn about the soul of the Icelandic countryside, Heima is a definite must-see (and of course the same goes for any film and music lover as well).
Every moment of Heima is filled with warmth and Sigur Rós’s love for Iceland. Even though it is directed by Canadian Dean DeBlois (Lilo & Stitch (2002)) it sheds a true light on the few people who still choose to live in small towns and villages across Iceland without any discrimination at all.
As always, Sigur Rós’s music comes in a brilliant package, although the power of their heavier songs does not quite deliver.
Sigur Rós’s selfless stunt of free outdoor concert series will be remembered as some of the most appreciated Icelandic shows of all time.
Egill M. Arnarsson is a multimedia designer from The School of Multimedia in Reykjavík. He graduated with distinction from the Fine Arts Department of the Vocational School in Akureyri (VMA) in 2004 and in 2005, he studied Film and Television at the University of Wales. He is an amateur filmmaker and graphic designer.