The Cold and the Beautiful

Fun fact No. 1: Iceland was recently named the fourth-happiest nation on Earth. Fun fact No. 2: Some Icelanders, descended from Vikings and Norsemen, still believe in elves or are unwilling to rule out their existence. It makes perfect sense, then, that Icelanders are making some of the most adventurous and gorgeous music heard south of the 64th parallel. Don't believe us, kunningi? Then check out the rock doc Screaming Masterpiece: 1,000 Years of Icelandic Popular Music.

The 2005 film serves as musical travelogue and history lesson, and explains how the chilly yet beautiful majesty of the remote island's glaciers and fjords has influenced its musicians, from ninth-century Norse explorers to 21st-century pop stars. As you might expect, Björk and Sigur Rós are all over Screaming Masterpiece, but it's the interviews and concert footage of nearly two dozen other acts -- including Múm, the four-organ combo Apparat, Slowblow, and bands in Reykjavik's hoppin' pub scene -- that illuminate the musical vastness of a nation of only 313,000 people.

Mon., Oct. 29, 7 & 9 p.m., 2007


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