Film Review – Until The Light Takes Us

The past few weeks I’ve been trying in vein to catch up the backlog of interviews I’ve done or was doing when my previous laptop went on the bunk, thankfully I’ve got a new laptop. Until The Light Takes US I got as a screener from the Glasgow Film Festival whilst it was shown late February and what I read from the reviews of its journeys of the previous film festivals I was n’t going to complain.

Before I get into the movie, I like to say to understand it sometimes you’ve got to be in it and what I mean there is of you’ve never followed a music genre lets say Metal music it has hundreds of sub-genres some easy to associate some just plain obscure. Man of these sub-genres have a distinctive sound, people who love that music it’s like an lifestyle many are loyal passionate people and for metal music, it’s no different but sadly misunderstood by many. If a music related death occurs like a massacre it seems that metal music fans are the number one target for mainstream (right) wing media. But rarely we see Hip-hop or even dance music both with a reputation in the past of violence/drug related incidents but never so we see (or rarely) the media point their grubby fingers at them, possibly because metal music is not regarded mainstream popular. Sorry about the outburst I had to get it off my chest!

Until The Light Takes Us is a look into the black metal music scene of Norway and like any tale there’s always two sides to the story. In one corner we have Gylve ‘Fenriz’ Nagell the drummer of Darkthrone, a ‘straight’ forward down to earth type of guy who is very passionate about his music, very diligent type of person. In the other corner we have Varg Vikernes a charismatic character who is serving the 16th year of an 21 year sentence for killing his fellow Mayhem band member (whom he believed was trying to kill him) as well a number of arson attacks on churches in and around Norway.

Vikernes is a man with no remorse or conviction, very unsettling unsavoury character who believes he is a man of political martyrdom, “me versus them” attitude. When you look at it, he is simply no more than a paranoid ultra-nationalistic man who believes the Christians, Americans, Nato and Norweigan democratic society are the main reason’s for his country’s demise. Questions should be asked about Vikernes is actually up for Parole (now released) when he talks openly about the hope for World War III, claiming he has stockpiled weapons for the cause, he sarcastically says –

“To Build something new, you have to destroy the old first”

I have sympathy for Gyvle he is a guy who is dedicated as well loyal to what he loves, his music its more than just the music its a lifestyle but he is frustrated that black metal is turning into a farcical trend and this where I can relate to him. In my twenties, I followed Hardcore-punk music very much in the way Kyle follows his passion, very underground not mainstream friendly but it was hijacked by the pathetic MTV generation. It was a lifestyle, a way thinking which could decide on what you wore, even eat (many kids where vegan or vegetarian), but whatever way you chose to embrace it we all had one thing in common the love for the music and this is what Gayle wants not rich middle-class kids who impersonate a way they want.

What we must understand is that 99.9% of people involved /or follow black metal are NOT arsonist or murderers, it’s just that 0.1% minority who want to cause the trouble the same can be said about any musical genre as well. If the sensationalised Norwegian media coverage of the arson attacks & killings didn’t get the over-hyped coverage Black Metal music would just be another subgenre of popular music and no one would have cared as much plus this documentary wouldn’t have been made either.

I did enjoy the movie especially the Gyvle side of music and his tried attempts to promote his favourite music in a positive way through the influences along with the roots in Norway’s anti-nihilism.The downside of the documentary was the lack variation in viewpoints especially from a fan point of view or even a music critic view (all genres have them). The film just seems to promote the fact black metallers are a bunch of killers and arsonists rather say this was just an isolated incident which the media over sensationalised.

As it seemed to more the negative side of things with fellow black metallers applauding Vikernes actions of “This fucking faggot back in Lillehammer” cries Immortal member Olve Eikems.The negativity was followed by a pointless moment of a performer dressed as a “typical” black metaller slicing himself with a blade further fuelling the perceptions that all in black metal are crazy and insane.

Overall It was an enjoyable but at times one-sided look into Norwegian metal music, watch with an opened mind.

★★★ | Paul Devine

Music, Documentary |USA, 2009 | 15 | 2010 Glasgow Film Festival | Dir.Aaron Aites, Audrey Ewell | Fenriz, Varg Vikernes, Øystein Aarseth


originally posted at The Peoples Movies | 2nd April 2010

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