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“Screaming Masterpiece” DVD Review

Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: , .

There are two defining pieces of history that have helped me understand what Icelanders are indeed capable of. The first was my introduction to Björk roughly a decade ago, introducing me to a different classification of music and one that I still stubbornly associate with the country. The second, which at the time had a far greater impact on my life, was through the movie D2: The Mighty Ducks in which the protagonists were matched against the seemingly insurmountable odds of facing Team Iceland in the finals. So for years, in all honesty, I really only knew of Iceland for its ridiculously diverse music and its Herculean athletes. I suppose not much has changed between then and now, with the exception of a blossoming interest in Icelandic geography, but in order to help guide my outlook is Screaming Masterpiece, a documentary capturing the country’s musical terrain.

The film delves into the heart of the country and the artists that have arisen from the its surrounding tundra (though I learned this, as well, from D2, “Greenland is ice, but Iceland is nice). Its moments offer both brilliance and familiarity as much of the music feels of home and could pass for native in many parts of the world. Such a band is Nilfisk, who are documented as playing their first public show opening for the Foo Fighters a few years back. A traditional garage band set on a national scene before even ripening, sounds familiar does it not?

The brilliance, however, comes through footage of bands such as Sigur Rós, a group near the top of my need to see live before I die list. The sheer eloquence that oozes from their stage performances is amazing and through a number of pieces of footage this documentary captures those sentiments perfectly. There is an overwhelming sense of calm when listening to the band of this nature and, despite the film capturing a wide spectrum of musical talent, I still associate much of the country’s charm to such a feeling even after watching the documentary. Knowing that there is nothing out there except the ability to create something beautiful is a thought both challenging and eerie at the same time. The film provides means and proof, however, by which Iceland is captured as a place where such creativity can and does exist.