Björk: Biophilia Live

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Biophilia Live
Biophilia Live Poster.jpeg
Official poster
Directed by Nick Fenton
Peter Strickland
Produced by Jacqui Edenbrow
Starring Björk
Music by Björk
Cinematography Brett Turnbull
Edited by Nick Fenton
Distributed by Cinema Purgatorio
Release date
  • 26 April 2014 (2014-04-26) (Tribeca)
  • 17 October 2014 (2014-10-17)
Running time
96 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $433,686[2]
Biophilia Live
Live album by Björk
Released 24 November 2014 (2014-11-24)
Recorded 3 September 2013 in London, United Kingdom
Genre Electronic
Length 97:00
Label
Director
  • Nick Fenton
  • Peter Strickland
Björk chronology
Bastards
(2012)Bastards2012
Biophilia Live
(2014)
Vulnicura
(2015)Vulnicura2015
Björk video chronology
When Björk Met Attenborough
(2014) When Björk Met Attenborough2014
Biophilia Live
(2014) Biophilia Live2014

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 3 separate editions (3xLP + DVD, 2xCD + DVD, and 2xCD + 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.

Reception[edit]

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]

DVD / Blu-ray[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Oskasteinn" (Narrated by David Attenborough, sung by Graduale Nobili) Traditional 2:50
2. "Thunderbolt"
  • Björk
  • Oddný Eir Ævarsdóttir
5:22
3. "Moon"
6:05
4. "Crystalline" Björk 5:12
5. "Hollow" Björk 6:00
6. "Dark Matter"
3:05
7. "Hidden Place" Björk 5:48
8. "Virus"
5:36
9. "Possibly Maybe" Björk 5:07
10. "Mouth's Cradle" Björk 4:17
11. "Isobel" 6:12
12. "Sonnets/Unrealities XI" 2:03
13. "Mutual Core" Björk 5:18
14. "Cosmogony"
  • Sjón
  • Björk
5:23
15. "Solstice"
  • Sjón
  • Björk
5:44
16. "One Day" Björk 7:10
17. "Náttúra" Björk 3:32
18. "Declare Independence"
  • Björk
  • Bell
4:55
19. "Sacrifice" Björk 5:18
20. "Bat Sounds" (by Jeremy Deller, end credits) Jeremy Deller 1:39
Total length: 96:24
Bonus video footage
No. Title Length
1. "Biophilia at Miraikan" 8:10

CD[edit]

Charts[edit]

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

References[edit]

External links[edit]