by Aedyn Roze 

What is anarchy if not felt in the purest form? Directed by Ragnar Bragason, Metalhead is an Icelandic film of a young girl, Hera, who witnesses the tragic death of her older brother at the age of 12 and grows to retaliate against the all-too-simple town she lives in, and most of all, against the god that took her brother away in vain. 

Sweet and innocent smiles are immediately broken once she sees the body of her older brother thrown apart from a farm tractor accident. There is no greater despair than to see your own beloved, flesh-and-blood die before your eyes, and at the age of 12, there is no greater nor darker mark on the psyche. 

The only comfort left for Hera was remembering her brother smiling at her while sitting in his bedroom chair, playing metal on his electric guitar with his amp resonating behind him and wall-to-wall posters of Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath, and Judas alike decorating his room. It is that image of her brother that sparks young Hera to discard clothes with color and to later pursue creating black metal music of her own, researching, learning, and recording guitar riffs on her cassette player. 

Her parents grieve all too silently and to themselves for over a decade, without seeking counselling or really speaking about the accident until Hera puts on black metal make-up on, acts out and puts ‘responsible’ choices as far reach as she possible can. Even with trying to concentrate on writing music, the death of her brother never leaves her mind and an internal unrest builds inside her. 

After her final push of rebellion against religion, i.e. burning down the town church in the dead of night, Hera takes off into the freezing Icelandic mountains to get away from society. Almost freezing to death in a shed in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by a blistering blizzard, she sees an image of her brother yet again stand in the doorway of the shed, but this time she realizes that it’s time to own up to her actions and move through grief productively and with purpose.

With luck – and good timing too as she almost stayed idle in a mundane lifestyle – a band from Oslo, Norway discover her music and travel for four days straight to Iceland to find Hera and ask to include her music on their independent, record label, humorously stating that it is the most evil thing they’ve ever heard. Their parents welcome them with open arms and minds as they finally see Hera moving on to more opportunities that suit her. 

Metalhead is a raw and original film, opening the minds of audiences to an underground subculture that is unfortunately and ignorantly declared as blasphemy, evil, and sinful – that is, to those who are religious and are far too conservative. A beautiful film of emotional anarchy and passion for music that should not be missed! 

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