Bjork: Biophilia Live

"Very Good"

Bjork: Biophilia Live Review


Bjork's fans will adore this film, which captures the last night of her Biophilia world tour with remarkable artistry and an attention to detail. Those who don't know her work might find it somewhat hard-going. Bjork's music is thematically deep and aurally complex, but the songs are often atonal. None are very easy to hum along with. Still, the creative filmmaking offers some ideas for future concert documentaries.

In September 2013 at Alexandra Palace in North London, Bjork gave the final live performance of her Biophilia song cycle about the elements and nature. So it's only natural that the film is introduced with narration from David Attenborough. On-stage, Bjork interacts with musicians Manu Delago and Matt Robertson, as well as a large choir of women from Iceland walking barefoot around her as they sing in eerie harmony. Filmmakers Nick Fenton and Peter Strickland then take the imagery from her video screens and layer it onto the movie. So for much of the film it looks like Bjork is performing on a stage floating in outer space, alongside a gigantic squid or erupting volcano. Then eventually the crowd resolves around her, participating in this celebration of the natural world.

With that Attenborough opening and Bjork's cheeky expressions, there's a nicely witty undercurrent to the whole film. And the cameras capture the performance from askance angles that reveal unexpected things about the amazing instruments Bjork has created with her musicians. Not only do they sound beautiful, but they are just as fascinating to explore with our eyes as the outrageous plasticky onion-white dress she's wearing. Accompanying this is an unusually sharp audio mix that lets us hear every sound. Although this only makes us wish we could understand the lyrics of the songs, which are often strange and moody and hardly seem like songs at all.

This is performance art, not a pop concert. So fans of Bjork's hits with the Sugarcubes may be disappointed. On the other hand, her fierce genius comes through in her dedication to this project. And even if we're never quite sure what she's singing, the images and certain audible words that help us understand the nature of the concept (song titles include Moon, Thunderbolt, Virus, Solstice and Crystalline). There's also no denying the raw power of Bjork's magnificent voice and the emotional feelings it conveys. This is such a skilfully assembled event and film that it has a hypnotic quality even for non-fans. But for Bjork's faithful followers, it's pretty close to heaven. 



Bjork: Biophilia Live

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 97 mins

In Theaters: Friday 17th October 2014

Box Office USA: $0.1M

Distributed by: Cinema Purgatorio

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 74%
Fresh: 14 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Nick Fenton,

Producer: Jacqui Edenbrow

Starring: as Herself

Also starring: ,

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