Cinematography can do a lot for a film. It can make a forgettable film tolerable, just as it can make an unforgettable film that much more extraordinary. The lens a camera operator chooses in addition to the landscape, the framing, and the aperture, can turn an ordinary, everyday object or location into a magical, mystical event.
Screaming Masterpiece is a gorgeous film in nearly every facet, but what makes it so exceeding special is the stunning camera work. The shots are so vivid, so crisp that observing the images unfold is a bit like traipsing through a frostbitten extraterrestrial landscape on an albino wolf, carefully perched on the minatory edges of jagged ivory cliffs framed only by the cresting waves of the icy blue-black ocean below. That hallucinatory imagery is then paired with the whimsical, icicle-tinkling sounds of Icelandic musicians to create an overall feeling of being suspended in time, trapped in a wintry wonderland for all eternity.
It's a beautiful thing. It's completely mesmerizing and fully engrossing.
Some of my favorite musicians are Icelandic, and this documentary not only further developed some of their stories, it introduced me to exciting new musicians as well. The format ebbs and flows between musical performances and historical information in the form of interviews, stock footage, and creative graphics. Although the history was indeed an important aspect of the film, I would have almost preferred the director rely solely on the performances, with the occasional artfully-scattered montage of frozen landscape to break any looming monotony.