This is quite a lengthy review, so take some time if you want to read it in one go.
A little info about the price and the version I bought: Virgin advertised Heima at £19 but unfortunately they didn’t have a copy in store, resulting in me buying it at HMV for the official RRP of £24,95. It has to be noted however that this is the Special Edition, there is a cheaper version (which does not include the book and as far as I can tell has a different packaging).
First, let’s look at the packaging. Heima comes in a solid, digipak-style box. The title of the film as well as the name Sigur Rós only appear on the sides, the front and back cover showing a blurry picture of a river and a mountain in the background, and a close-up picture of the river respectively. The packaging is open at the top, so the book can easily be taken out. Here’s a surprising fact: the DVDs are not in a separate case, but inside the book (one in a pocket behind the front cover, the other in a pocket before the back cover). I am not quite sure whether I like this design or not, but the DVDs seem to be held quite firmly, so at least there’s no imminent danger of them falling out.
The book is really beautifully done. It’s a hardcover and well bound. The pages are made of quite thick paper which don’t stick together – you can easily grab pages and browse through the book. As for the content: it’s a photo book – meaning no text at all (good news for you lazy folks who don’t like reading). The pictures were, unsurpisingly, shot during Sigur Rós‘ tour, which the film is about. There are pictures of fans at concerts, pictures of the band themselves (though very few) and, for a large part, pictures of breathtaking Icelandic landscapes (really makes me want to go there). A bad point about the photographs however is that most of them are rather dark and too matte. For quite a few pictures this works in adding the right atmosphere, but for some it doesn’t and you wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to add a bit more contrast and saturation. Still, it’s a great snapshot of emotions and worth more than just one look.
DVD one then contains the main feature, Heima. This first film ever by Sigur Rós captures some of the best moments of their Iceland tour together with Amiina during summer 2006, consisting of unnanounced concerts in small towns across the country. In between the different songs there are short commentaries by the band members about why they decided to do the tour and what their fears and hopes were. The film is not so much an amazing tribute to Sigur Rós as it is to Iceland. The recordings of the concerts time and again fade into images of Icelandic landscapes which for the most part fit the music. This movie finally gives the world outside Iceland an idea of what exactly it is that inspires these people. It gives us a wonderful insight into why these people deeply love their country – it’s an honest love towards its people, its traditions and its rich culture, and no blind patriotism. It’s also an utmost respect for its art, at one point they include the town musicians into one of their songs and on the bonus DVD it can later be seen that they even gave a local choir the chance to take part in the concert.
“You know Iceland is a unique place, in a way, on this planet and it’s so strange that people can actually think about it as sort of a money-making scheme.” (Georg Hólm)
One of the things that gives you goose bumps is witnessing how Sigur Rós capture their audience; for a short while they create a whole universe full of fantastic emotions – you can see people of all ages having tears in their eyes – and this, in the end, gives a perfect account of who Sigur Rós really are: true artists.
“It is kind of a save haven for us, Iceland. We are left on our own here.” (Kjartan Sveinsson)
So, ultimately, there is only one way to describe this movie: an absolutely amazing masterpiece.
The second DVD then is much quicker described: it is a showcase of the concerts across the country, that didn’t fit in the movie itself. The way this is done is quite great: the menu is a map of Iceland and, using the compass in the upper left corner of the screen, you can move around and choose the different towns and cities in which they played. For some places there is only one concert, for others there are more – whatever the case, many of them give the viewer a unique perspective of Iceland and its people. And, of course, there’s always the ingenious music of Sigur Rós and Amiina. A bad point is the lack of subtitles on this second DVD, as there is quite a lot of talking in Icelandic in some videos. All in all however, the bonus material is a wonderful addition to an already marvellous package.
To conclude, I can only say I have never been as happy about having spent money on a DVD. There is, ultimately, no way around this movie if you ever want to truly know what it is that makes Sigur Rós so beloved across the globe and why Iceland is so much more than just the land of fairies.
What are you waiting for? Run to the shop and get yourself a copy!
Disclaimer: These thumbnail versions of screenshots of the movie and its bonus material are only used to illustrate some of the points mentioned in this review. No profit is made out of this website or review (the hosting, traffic and DVD actually cost me money) and the review is solely written out of passion about Sigur Rós’ music. No copyright infringement is intended.