FilmFest Review: Investigations Into the Invisible World

By Peter Hemminger

Ambient music group Sigur Ros aren’t all that normal. They sing in a made-up language and occasionally refuse to title their songs. Bjork is undoubtedly strange. It’s actually pretty difficult to come up with some aspect of her personality that could be called normal. After seeing Jean-Michel Roux’s documentary Investigations Into the Invisible World, a startling truth emerges-Bj√∂rk and Sigur Ros are probably among the least strange people in Iceland.

Iceland, as a nation, is a bit unusual to begin with. Geologically, being located at the colliding point between the North American and European continents means it’s landscapes are constantly shifting and quite harsh. Culturally it is more open than most other nations, the first to elect a female president, and religiously, it has kept ties to both pagan and Norse roots, as well as its more recent Christian traditions. Those pagan roots are the focus of the documentary. Specifically, the Icelandic people’s beliefs in elves, trolls, ghosts and other invisible people.

Investigations deals with its subject through a plethora of interviews with everyone from television reporters to psychic mediums and even the former president herself. Roux treats these people with respect, but viewers will have a harder time staying serious when one woman describes the elf university that exists within a rock, or another old man describing the invisible friend he used to have until his “testicles descended” and the friend wouldn’t speak to him anymore. But this isn’t purely a fringe belief. Construction crews consult with mediums to decide which rocks are safe to destroy and which house communities of magic people.

There’s no real effort made to explain the beliefs of the Icelandic people aside from a few brief mentions of their pagan heritage. Instead, Investigations provides a glimpse into a culture with a vastly different perspective on life than what we in Canada are used to.

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