Home is an elusive concept. Many spend years trying to get away from it only to spend even more trying to return to or recreate it. Often, it is the return home after time away that grants us the refined palate to truly appreciate it – sometimes even more than before. Post-rock group Sigur Rós’ film Heima is an homage-to-slash-rediscovery of home. Their home — Iceland.
Heima, Icelandic for “At Home”, is part music film, part documentary. Filmed primarily during a series of free, mostly unannounced concerts in the summer of 2006, the movie follows Sigur Rós across the North Atlantic island. The cinematic result is a thoroughly indulgent interplay of stunning imagery, meaningful music and eye-opening introduction to Iceland.
As one band member recounts, in Iceland exists a strong sense of space. The nation’s relatively small population combined with the fact that 60% of Icelanders live in or near its capital, Reykjavík, leaves the rest of the island’s inhabitants with considerable elbow room. 12% of Iceland is covered by glaciers; only 23% is vegetated. In fact, 62% of Iceland is considered to be wasteland – an unforgettably beautiful wasteland.
Iceland is a geological baby. Its young age and northern position on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge has blessed it with a spectacular natural beauty. Picturesque fjords, piercing peaks, numerous geysers, and waterfalls are not an uncommon sight. Europe’s most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss, seen in Heima, is located in the island’s northeast. Fed mostly by glacial melt, a Dettifoss visit is said to be breathtaking and comes highly recommended by the lads from Sigur Rós.
Considering Iceland’s latitude, guests to the island should consider a peek at the Icelandic versions of Aurora Borealis and the summer Midnight Sun, depending on the timing of your visit. While glaciers, waterfalls and the Northern Lights may not be too much of a surprise, but black sand beaches? Iceland’s got them too, as Heima can attest, in Ólafsvík.
In a film with several memorable moments, another that stands out is the view of Isafjördur in the West Fjords region. While we have included the image here, the shot of the light play against the mountains that frame the city must really be appreciated in video, or better still, in person. Isafjördur is a destination for cruise ships, and is also known for its lively urbane character, impressive for its isolation and small population – 4000.
While we have no problem sharing our thoughts on Heima’s poignant presentation of Iceland, we inevitably arrive at the point of cliché. Words cannot adequately describe what the eye can see, nor what the ear can here. Heima is so intensely satisfying to both, the reader, if at all interested, simply must see it for themselves. Anything less would be unjust. We can only imagine that Iceland must be the same.
In addition, the websites for the band and the film are as informative as they are well designed, and include a travel diary, maps, photo essays, film screening information, set list, etc. Even if you are not a fan of both the music and the film, you will not be disappointed.
It is telling that we’ve gotten this far without discussing the music. There is so much to discuss besides it; and this is a travel website. However, if interested, have a listen to inspiring Staralfur. You may recognize it from Girl in the Cafe. Regardless, if Iceland wasn’t on your “To Visit” list before, a look at Sigur Rós’ Heima may have you reconsider.
Alvaro Eduardo Rojas
Images Copyright © 2007 Sigur Rós