Björk: Biophilia Live

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Biophilia Live
Biophilia Live Poster.jpeg
Official poster
Directed byNick Fenton
Peter Strickland
Produced byJacqui Edenbrow
Music byBjörk
CinematographyBrett Turnbull
Edited byNick Fenton
Distributed byCinema Purgatorio
Release date
  • 26 April 2014 (2014-04-26) (Tribeca)
  • 17 October 2014 (2014-10-17)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$433,686[2]
Biophilia Live
Live album by Björk
Released24 November 2014 (2014-11-24)
Recorded3 September 2013 in London, United Kingdom
  • Nick Fenton
  • Peter Strickland
Björk chronology
Biophilia Live
Björk video chronology
When Björk Met Attenborough
Biophilia Live

Biophilia Live is a 2014 British concert film by Björk, directed and edited by Peter Strickland and Nick Fenton. The film features Björk performing tracks from her Biophilia Tour, which started in June 2011 and ended in September 2013. It was filmed at Alexandra Palace in London on 3 September 2013, and had a theatrical premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on 26 April 2014[3][4] with screenings across the world throughout the same year.

The film was released on home video in three separate editions (3×LP + DVD, 2×CD + DVD, and 2×CD + Blu-ray) on 25 November 2014.[5][6]

Background and production[edit]

The Biophilia Tour began on 27 June 2011 at the Manchester International Festival and spanned 3 years. Several innovate instruments were created and utilized for the tour, including a musical Tesla coil, a midi-controlled gamelan-celesta hybrid, a pendulum harp and perhaps the concert's most unwieldy instrument, The Sharpsichord created by Henry Dagg in the UK. Björk chose a very specific format for the tour to show off all the instruments and create an intimate feeling: she and the musicians would be on a circular stage at the center of the venue and the audience would form all around them, free to move about and get a look at the various instruments placed throughout different parts of the stage.

The in the round format proved the single greatest challenge for filmmakers Nick Fenton and Peter Strickland when they co-directed the last in the round show of the Biophilia Tour, particularly where to place the 16 HD cameras. “Brett Turnbull was the head cinematographer and it was a big job for him to make sure we wouldn’t disturb the performers or the audience with our presence,” said Strickland.[7] The film was shot on a mixture of Alexa and Red Epic cameras.

"In my mind we were clearly there to serve Björk's vision,” continued Strickland. He initially wanted to use nature photography from the 1970s but revealed that Björk “was cautious of going down a retro path. She didn’t want to have a romantic view of nature. She wanted something modern and clinical... For me, it’s about marveling at the universe on an infinite and microscopic level and finding these connections. We tried to introduce this by having highly magnified tissue cells and linking them with overhead shots of forests and sand dunes. Visually they almost look identical.”[8]

Nick Fenton revealed that they did not take inspiration from famous concert films of the past like D. A. Pennebaker's Monterey Pop or the Maysles brothers' Gimme Shelter, instead choosing to do "something that was true to what [Björk's] works represents."

During the night of the concert at Alexandra Palace on 3 September 2013, several songs were retaken to perfect them for filming, including "Sonnets/Unrealities XI" and "Sacrifice", the only song to use The Sharpsichord on the tour. Björk explained that they were only just getting familiar with the instrument as The Sharpsichord's size and weight prevented it from traveling. Despite its difficulties, Strickland revealed it was his favorite of the instruments utilized for the Biophilia Tour.

The film had its world premiere on 26 April 2014 at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film’s trailer debuted on YouTube on 14 August 2014[9] before the movie played at a variety of venues and dates around the world, including the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles. On 7 October 2014, Bjork skipped the British premiere at the BFI London Film Festival because she was busy working on her follow up to Biophilia, 2015’s critically acclaimed Vulnicura.[10]

The concert film was released on CD, 3xLP, DVD and Blu-ray on 25 November 2014. The same content with all the sound effects accompanying the super imposed images is carried over throughout all the formats as is David Attenborough's narration over the opening track, "Oskasteinn." However the release is not the first live material from Biophilia to be available officially. The special Manual and Ultimate Art Editions of the original studio album contained a bonus disc of 15 songs performed live at the Manchester International Festival from June and July 2011. However, that original CD contains performances of Björk's prior to her vocal chord surgery in late 2012.[11] Her vocals during the concert film are remarkably improved and more dynamic, which is reflected in the generally favorable reviews the film received upon its release.


Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 74% based on reviews from 19 critics, with an average score of 6.5/10.[12] Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 67 (out of 100) based on 6 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be "generally favorable reviews."[13]

Track listings[edit]

Björk: Biophilia Live – DVD/Blu-ray
No.TitleWriter(s)Original version on:Length
1."Oskasteinn" (Narrated by David Attenborough, sung by Graduale Nobili)Traditional-2:50
  • Björk
  • Oddný Eir Ævarsdóttir
6."Dark Matter"
7."Hidden Place"BjörkVespertine5:48
9."Possibly Maybe"BjörkPost5:07
10."Mouth's Cradle"BjörkMedúlla4:17
12."Sonnets/Unrealities XI"Medúlla2:03
13."Mutual Core"BjörkBiophilia5:18
  • Sjón
  • Björk
  • Sjón
  • Björk
16."One Day"BjörkDebut7:10
18."Declare Independence"
  • Björk
  • Bell
20."Bat Sounds" (by Jeremy Deller, end credits)Jeremy Deller-1:39
21."Biophilia at Miraikan"  8:10
Total length:104:34


Chart (2014) Peak
Italian Music DVD (FIMI)[14] 2


  1. ^ "BJÖRK – BIOPHILIA LIVE (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 17 September 2014. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  2. ^ "Bjork - Biophilia Live". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  3. ^ Gordon, Jeremy (28 March 2014). "Björk to Release Biophilia Concert Film". Pitchfork. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
  4. ^ "Bjork's 'Biophilia' Movie Headed to Tribeca". Spin. March 28, 2014. Retrieved April 26, 2014.
  5. ^ Pelly, Jenn (17 October 2014). "Björk's Biophilia Live Concert Film Gets Audio Visual DVD/Blu-Ray Release". Pitchfork Music. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  6. ^ "'biophilia live' available for pre-order". 17 October 2014. Archived from the original on 5 March 2007. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  7. ^ Indiewire. "Meet the 2014 Tribeca Filmmakers #50: Nick Fenton and Peter Strickland Capture 'Björk: Biophilia Live' - IndieWire". Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  8. ^ "Interview: Biophilia filmmakers Peter Strickland and Nick Fenton". 13 October 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  9. ^ "Watch Bjork's Eye-Boggling 'Biophilia Live' Film Trailer". 14 August 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  10. ^ "Björk cancels appearance at premiere of her film to work on new album - NME". 9 October 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  11. ^ "Bjork undergoes throat surgery". 23 November 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2017 – via
  12. ^ "Björk: Biophilia Live". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  13. ^ "Björk: Biophilia Live". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  14. ^ "DVD Musicali — Classifica settimanale WK 48 (dal 24-11-2014 al 30-11-2014)" (in Italian). Federation of the Italian Music Industry. Retrieved 3 May 2012.

External links[edit]