Rating: 3.2/5.0

Cinema Purgatorio

74 Minutes

Inni is an attempt to convey the language of Sigur Rós’ music in filmic terms. While the 2007 film Heima depicts the band playing in various locations throughout its native Iceland, Inni, featuring footage from two 2008 concerts in London, is its gauzy double exposure, a suffocating and insular 74 minutes of close-up shots and Stan Brakhage film tricks.

When compared to bright landscapes and majesty of Heima, Inni feels downright minimalistic. Maybe that’s why the more upbeat numbers such as “Glósóli” that dominated Heima are replaced by darker songs such as “Ný batterí.” There is no overreaching narration or political bent happening in Inni. It’s just a set of songs, offset with cryptic footage interspersed between each such as the notorious NPR interview where the band refused to answer any questions (however, Inni cuts off before frontman Jónsi Birgisson mutters something about “bullshit”).

French-Canadian filmmaker Vincent Morisset took a novel approach to creating Inni, shooting on HD video, transferring to 16-mm film and then rephotographing it all. Morisset also adds certain strange effects to the film, creating a monochromatic cocoon of tight close-ups on Birgisson’s grimacing face or the metronome of drummer Orri Páll Dýrason’s steady foot. It’s a lovingly made film for fans of Sigur Rós, though it will likely turn off anyone looking for an entry point into the band.

Sigur Rós seemed to appear out of nowhere more than a decade ago, its icy soundscapes perfectly in line with the furor of a world circa Kid A. Shrouded at first in mystery, Birgisson’s inscrutable lyrics adding to the aura, the band was already selling out theaters across the United States soon after the release of its sophomore record Ágætis Byrjun. After three more albums, the band suddenly announced an indefinite hiatus as some of its members decided to have kids and pursue other projects.

Inni is the closest you will get to a Sigur Rós concert. During the band’s tour to support Takk…, they played the opening song behind a translucent curtain, nearly invisible to the audience in a frenzy of fabric and light. Inni not only attempts to replicate that experience but also express what transpires in a Sigur Rós song. It’s a dreamlike state, to enter the music, a place of feathers, strobing lights and very thin ice.

Some of the footage between the 2008 clips shows the band pre-fame, wearing T-shirts and jeans, informally setting up their equipment in a small club. Shot on fuzzy video cassette, these images break the dream, purposely unplug the mystery of the rock star and remind us that Sigur Rós has not forgotten its roots.

I’ve been lucky enough to see Sigur Rós four times in concert over the past decade and Inni comes close to emulating the experience. We see Birgisson bowing and singing into his guitar, the billowing smoke encircling the band. Under Morisset’s hand, Inni feels like a timeless document from another world, one that all Sigur Rós fans should seek out for one more glimpse of a band that may just never return.

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