Cinema Review: Björk: Biophilia Live | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, January 20th, 2021  

Björk: Biophilia Live

Directed by Nick Fenton and Peter Strickland

Sep 24, 2014 Web Exclusive
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Filmed last September in London, Biophilia Live is a concert film intended to document and cap off Björk’s 2011 multimedia album, app collection, and live production series, Biophilia. Interwoven with the singer’s performance (here accompanied by a choir), directors Nick Fenton and Peter Strickland incorporate Biophilia’s beautifully strange and hypnotic visual elements in a way that makes the film an engrossing (yet almost overwhelmingly psychedelic) viewing experience. As she sings, Björk fades into and out of images of nature, outer space, microscopic organisms, and the occasional computer-generated designs.

As a documented event, Biophilia Live has the feel of a concert film, rather than a filmed concert; the focus was on capturing a perfect live performance, and songs were stopped and started over again when technical flubs sprang up. (Mess-ups are not included here.) This makes it feel a little more contrived than many concert documentaries, but having it any other way probably would have ruined the effect this film seemed to be going for -- Biophilia Live might have fallen completely apart if we were allowed a glimpse at the wizard behind the curtain. The audio-visual quality as a whole is superb; the songs sound great, and the director of photography, Brett Turnbull, is highly experienced shooting live concerts (and perhaps more appriately, a Cirque du Soleil show.)

Like the record that it shares part of its name with, Biophilia Live won’t likely win the eccentric, iconic singer any new fans, as it’s far from the friendliest access point to her work. But for those already initiated? It’s more than a fair consolation prize for not being able to attend the Biophilia tour itself. (The setlist only contains a few pre-Biophilia cuts, so those looking for a career-spanning set should steer towards one of her other live DVD releases.)

Author rating: 6.5/10

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