For a band as atmospheric and deep as Sigur Rós, one could not think of any natural visions worthy to accompany the music. It ends up, though, that you don’t have to look too far after all. Just take some time to see the beauty and infinite space right in their own home of Iceland. This documentary, Heima, shows the world one of the last untouched visages in existence. The island country is exotic and devoid of pollution of nature and man. Sigur Rós decided to come back home to do a sixteen-city tour, for free, in order to give back to the community that gave them life. Without the hectic bustle of traveling the entire earth from venue to venue, the band is able to bask in the glory that is home, calm themselves down for a short respite, play the music to their own people, and get nothing out of it except the joy from bringing together an entire country through the sounds they have created. It is a touching story of art and life that simply needs to be seen to be understood.
Sigur Rós’ music has always been such a visceral and aural experience for me. It is the kind of work that cleanses my mind from all thought to fully envelope my body and soul as one. If you are ever feeling stressed or unable to cope with something in your life, just put on any of their albums, all are masterpieces. The layers meld together for a wall of sound that takes you over, washing away all your fears, filling you with hope and joy for a future coming towards you; a future that can be battled with the knowledge that you can overcome anything.
I am just overjoyed to finally see a little insight into the artists behind the music. The members of this quartet—along with the foursome of women as their string section—are all soft-spoken, down to earth people. They tell of their inhibitions and inability to do many interviews or press junkets to support them. Not because they are standoffish or uncaring for those who enjoy their sound, the band just wants to lead normal lives out of the spotlight that would overtake them if they bought into the machine. With abrupt cuts to the group having fun with each other, we see the good-natured humor they all have. As one member says, he was 21 when they first started and became a sensation. These men didn’t quite know what was in store, and rather than become destructive to themselves and the music, they decided to go in the other direction. More a family than a business, Sigur Rós takes great pride in their work and say that they may even take too much time honing everything to the point of perfection. I myself don’t care, because the time spent seems to have worked each and every time.
The visuals that director Dean DeBlois has added to enhance the music are magical. For one, the cities chosen for each concert are amazing and diverse. From concert halls, to giant festival stages, to an abandoned fishing complex, to setting up between a couple country houses, to even in front of a newly created dam in the highlands for a protest show, Heima shows Iceland with an eye of wonderment and unfiltered beauty. To see how the band uses layers of projections and cloth curtains, harkening to the elaborate cd artwork they hold each album in, helps to explain the detail and perfection really at work. Seeing them play an acoustic show outside a dam they feel ruins the natural landscape of the city, in order to create the electricity they refuse to use, is fantastic. Also, the cut scenes to static shots of the world surrounding them show the country in all its glory. The kites in the air, the juxtaposition of the rundown fishing wharf with black and white footage of the time it once bustled, the mountains shrouded in fog, the ice melting, and the water flowing (forwards and backwards) leave you without words as it all encompasses you into the world of their sound.
All the band members share anecdotes and insight into their motivations and creative process, as well as why they still come home and stay in Iceland despite the notoriety and money they have earned since their first album. Through it all, though, it is the music that shines. True artists, their renditions of songs like Starálfur and Hoppípolla can bring a tear to your eye for their sheer emotion. I loved how they sprinkled in motifs of the band throughout, from the Takk… man to the Ágætis byrjun alien, to the birds flying, silhouetted from the sky. Heima gets to the core of what Sigur Rós and their music is while also showcasing a country that many people may never think twice about. I for one now see that I must visit Iceland at least once before I die to experience its beauty for myself.
Sigur Rós – Heima 9/10