Review – “Until The Light Takes Us”

Until The Light Takes Us, a full-length documentary by Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites, gives audiences an unprecedented look at the foundations of the Norwegian black metal scene through the eyes of some of its founding fathers. It covers the most infamous events in black metal’s past: the church burnings, the murder of Euronymous by Varg Vikernes, the murder committed by Bard Faust, the formation of Helvete, and the early black metal bands that came from the norwegian scene. It would’ve been easy for the filmmakers to stop there and just make a movie about crazy Norwegians burning down churches and killing each other as part of some twisted subculture they created, but instead the producers chose to delve deeper. Two years of exhaustive research later, they’ve instead provided a detailed but very human look into the minds of some of the most infamous personalities in black metal.

If you’re a black metal fan, you’re probably already planning to see this movie. A lot of the subject matter is nothing new to fans, but there’s definitely a thrill to seeing it on the big screen. You’ve no doubt heard about the church burnings, but seeing actual footage of the ancient churches burning, as well as their charred ruins, not to mention shocked Norwegian news reporters talking about them, is something else entirely. And of course, another thing surely of interest to fans will be the numerous interviews; Fenriz and Varg are heavily featured, and Hellhammer, Garm, Frost, Bard Faust and two members of Immortal also make appearances.

The movie jumps around between different events in the past, occasionally stopping to focus on some of black metal’s prevalence in modern day Norwegian culture. Some of these scenes are pretty interesting (a scene of Frost breathing fire and mutilating himself will surely be one of the most talked about parts of the film), while others like Fenriz riding trains and going to art galleries didn’t seem to add much to the film.

It’s worth emphasizing that Until The Light Takes Us is not about black metal itself, as much as it is a document of a specific period in black metal’s history. And while fans will definitely enjoy certain parts of the movie, they should keep in mind that that’s not the main focus here. The movie uses black metal as a means to an end – to show what a group of people created and how that creation eventually spun out of control and ultimately stopped being what it was created to be. Making a movie about something with such a rabid and elitist fanbase as black metal while still keeping the film interesting and thought-provoking for general audiences doesn’t seem like an easy thing to do, and I think these guys did an admirable job.

» Visit the Until The Light Takes Us Website for trailers, showtimes and other information.

November 14, 2009 in Media

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