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Until the Light Takes Us

3.8 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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(Jun 09, 2015)
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(Oct 19, 2010)
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Editorial Reviews

Until The Light Takes Us tells the story of black metal. Part music scene and part cultural uprising, black metal rose to worldwide notoriety in the mid-nineties when a rash of suicides, murders, and church burnings accompanied the explosive artistic growth and output of a music scene that would forever redefine what heavy metal is and what it stands for to other musicians, artists and music fans world-wide. The Film goes behind the highly sensationalized media reports of "Satanists running amok in Europe" to examine the complex and largely misunderstood principles and beliefs of the scene.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Gylve Nagell, Jan Axel Blomberg, Varg Vikernes
  • Directors: Aaron Aites, Audrey Ewell
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Factory 25
  • DVD Release Date: October 19, 2010
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003R9K08S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #208,459 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Until the Light Takes Us" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Directors Aaron Aites and Audrey Ewell have done something remarkable here: They made an artful, thoughtful documentary about a potentially lurid subject.

In the '80s and '90s, a scary, primitive subgenre of heavy metal took root in wealthy, beautiful Norway. How and why Black Metal was created, and how it suddenly exploded into a media frenzy as some of its practitioners started burning down churches and committing murders... that's what this film explores.

But it's all somehow handled with restraint, and mainly from the point of view of the musicians themselves. There are interviews with many of the main players in Norway's black metal scene, including the infamous and eerily charming Varg Vikernes from his dorm-like prison cell, but there's very little performance footage here -- it's not a "rock documentary" in that sense. In fact in a way "Until The Light" unfolds more like an art film. To the filmmakers, Black Metal is an opportunity to explore how artistic intent and meaning gets re-interpreted and twisted by culture and media. It's the ultimate post-modern tale.

That said, the film is gripping, full of fascinating and contradictory characters. The soundtrack features hushed electronica by bands like Mum, the cinematography swings between gritty handheld stuff and composed naturescapes... it's an unusual atmosphere for a documentary. If you're into Black Metal you're going to watch this movie anyway, but indie movie lovers should give it a spin too.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Ok, the movie is great, I have no qualms with it at all. This is more about the limited edition 2-disc version I just pulled out from my box (hehe) and viewed, listened to, touched, smelled, and would taste if that wasn't totally uncanny.

The DVDs are beautifully packaged, in what appears to be a newer type of plastic clamp system (instead of popping the disc out, you go "down and up"). DO NOT FORCE THE DISC OUT NO MATTER HOW EXCITED YOU MAY BE TO HEAR FENRIZ TALK FOR AN HOUR. You will break it. While the package is minimalist and sleek, it is constructed almost completely out of paperboard, so wear and damage over time is a possiblilty. The artwork, however, is breathtaking - the disc covers resemble little Polish paper cuts, or the cover of an Agalloch album (think slate purples and grays, with black animal silhouettes). A very informative booklet sits inside without any individual housing pocket.

One of the greatest things about recieving this was that there was a sticker on the shrinkwrap stating "4 Extra Hours of Black Metal." How often does one see that? While some of the extras are neat, like most cutting room slag, the viewer understands why it was left behind. The extra footage is wonderfully organized by band, so fans can navigate through what they want to see easily. BTW there was a TON of Enslaved and Ulver footage that didn't make it in (lame). We also get to see Fenriz create a "History of Black Metal" bubble chart on a chalkboard, but alas being raw footage it is incredibly lengthy and at times boring.

Of course metalheads around the world have been yapping on about "Until the Light Takes Us" for the months prior and after its release, but this movie is so artfully and cleanly done that I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in music subculture and, without thinking this a stretch, world cultures.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
For some reason, I find this movie has a calming effect on me. It's partly the introverted introspection that marks most of the guys who are interviewed here, and it's also partly the soundtrack, which has less of the highly-aggressive Black Metal that most people think of, and quite a bit more of the atmospheric stuff. But as soon as I begin to relax watching Fenriz, up pops Varg Vikernes, who is utterly terrifying, possibly a "perfect-40" psychopath.

What I find most interesting is the insight you get into what it is to be Norwegian. It's such a communal culture, and people like this--the nails that stick up--get hammered down. It's no surprise that a thing like Black Metal would take root in a place like that. It's their expression of rebellion. (Fenriz even says something about how he loves the art of tired and privileged Western bourgeoises.) But then taken a step further into murderous criminality and hate crimes.

Anyway, it's not about teaching you facts or trivia (though the Fenriz lecture in the bonus material is brilliant), it's about getting the feeling of the thing. Black Metal isn't all aggression and violence. It's a sort of appreciation--or at least, examination--of the darkness of things (sorry for sounding like one of those silly goth kids). You also get a feeling for how completely seriously these guys take themselves. Anyway, I really recommend it.
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Format: Blu-ray
When I was a fifteen year old punk growing up in Austin, Texas, this thing called the internet completely changed the mode through which I, and so many others like me, were exposed to new music. I know that Burzum and Darkthrone weren't creating their art with teenagers in the sunny suburbs of Texas who wore NOFX t-shirts, smoked pot, and waited anxiously for somebody to beat the LA Lakers in mind. But, unfortunately for those guys, and fortunately for the legion of like-minded American youngsters, they were that damned intriguing that we took notice...and we had a hard time looking away.

Here is the interesting part; that was 1999-2000, so these Black Metallers from their tucked away corner of the globe were already entering their second decade as bands...or inmates. Fast forward eleven more years to 2010 and we have overpriced picture books, parody albums, guest appearances, American kvlts, and even a few documentary films.

"Until the Light Takes Us" is a lot of things, but most importantly it is NOT a journalistic expose into "the intriguing and mysterious world of Black Metal". If anything, thank Odin, this film is a subtle middle finger to all those "pieces" that attempt to either exploit atrocity or over-intellectualize. For too long outsiders, like myself, have had unauthorized license to make BM into what they want it to be. But behind the veiled mystery are real people, real cultures, real history. Black Metal wasn't spewed from hell upon us, it came about under very real circumstances. "Until the Light Takes Us" puts those real people and circumstances side-by-side with the BS'ers who think they understand.
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