Review:  ‘Björk: Biophilia Live’ captures a multimedia extravaganza

Otherworldly marine creatures, DNA strands and the tectonic plates all get their spotlight moments in the multimedia extravaganza “Björk: Biophilia Live.”

The concert film, which records the final night of a two-year tour, is a must for fans of the avant-garde pixie. For the Björk-curious, a little of her atonal pop musings can go a long way, but the documentary is a dynamic introduction to a singular talent in full bloom, as well as a well-crafted memento of an ambitious project, infused with end-of-tour emotion.

“Biophilia” began with Björk’s eighth studio album and extends to a series of music apps and interactive workshops. But directors Nick Fenton and Peter Strickland focus on the show itself, the first in-the-round performance at London’s Alexandra Palace. The Icelandic diva’s paean to nature, music and technology transform the historic venue into a reimagined planetarium, complete with introductory voiceover by David Attenborough. But the subject is a single planet, Earth.

The movie can’t replicate what must have been an immersive experience, but the directors and cinematographer Brett Turnbull are ever alert to the interplay between the music and the projected nature footage, its microscopic patterns sexual and mysterious.

Wearing a fright wig that looks like an aurora borealis and surrounded by a Nordic female choir, Björk applies her supple voice to lyrics of earnest inquiry. For all their layered complexity, the songs can slip into a musical and rhetorical sameness. But the concert’s aesthetic power is undeniable. The swirl of sound and motion burns with a bright intensity, not unlike like the onstage Tesla coils that have been reconfigured as instruments.



“Björk: Biophilia Live”

MPAA rating: None

Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes.

Playing: At Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.