Burzum’s Varg Vikernes and his wife Marie Cachet have made a movie entitled ForeBears. But before getting to that, some background:
On the night of March 31, 2012, I discovered that someone had uploaded the entirety of the new, as-yet unreleased Burzum album Umskiptar to YouTube. At the same time, whoever manages Varg’s web page uploaded a batch of photos of Varg wearing, among other things, chain mail and an archaic helmet. The YouTube stream didn’t stay up for long, but long enough for me to listen to the album once. On April 1, I posted (here) a generally unflattering review along with some snarky comments about Varg and those photos.
That post became a gathering point for a ton of comments, mostly from people who are not regular visitors to NCS, and it still gets a lot of traffic to this day. I’m not sure why — maybe because it was such an early review of Umskiptar. It also led Varg’s wife Marie Cachet (though I didn’t know she was his wife at that time) to ask that I remove the Varg photos that I had added to my article — which she had made — because I posted them without her permission. I then had a very polite e-mail exchange with her, and she graciously agreed to allow me to keep the photos with the post after adding proper credit, despite the fact that I was poking fun at them.
I’ve come to have second thoughts about what I wrote concerning Umskiptar. I haven’t completely revised my initial opinion, but I’ve certainly come to appreciate Umskiptar for what it is rather than for what I wanted it to be. In my defense, I did say in the earlier review that I was writing my first impressions after one listen, and that further listens might lead to different impressions. I suppose the lesson is that I shouldn’t review albums based on one listen (and I rarely do).
And that brings me, at last, to ForeBears. According to Marie Cachet, it has been made by her and Varg as “an amateur and experimental motion film about the prehistoric Bear Cult and the Neanderthal case.” It will be released on DVD through Amazon in March 2013. Ms. Cachet also provides this descrption:
“To summarize the story, Varg Vikernes is thinking and discovers bit by bit what happened before. A kind of journey in reverse through time and in thought, to prehistoric time (about 30 000 BC), up to a previous life when he was a little boy. Through what he lives again in this little boy, he understands the meaning of certain essential rituals of that prehistoric time, that still have a major influence on modern habits.”
I don’t pretend to understand what this means. However, I did find clues on Ms. Cachet’s website/blog, Atala. It includes extensive (and on-going) writing about the importance of Neanderthal culture (and genetics) on the development of European mythology, religion, and human culture in general, as well as connections between autism and what is known about Neanderthal brains and theories concerning how that species saw the world and communicated. (By the way, I don’t know if any of Varg and Marie’s children — who appear in the film — are autistic; this may be purely an intellectual interest.)
Ms. Cachet has made a trailer for ForeBears. It includes scenes filmed in the Presque Caves located in the Lot Valley of France as well as shots of Ms. Cachet and children in costume . . . and of course bears.
The soundtrack for the trailer is the Burzum song “Gullaldr” (Golden Age) from the Umskiptar album. The lyrics (in Norwegian) are drawn from a landmark Norse poem from the Edda called “Völuspá”, as are all the lyrics of Umskiptar. More info about “Völuspá” can be found here.
I’ve come to realize that although “Gullaldr” isn’t metal, at least in the conventional sense of the word, it is a beautiful song, with a spiritual, almost hypnotic quality. It has grown on me the more I’ve listened to it (and I do get an extra kick in those moments when Varg switches from his basso profundo intonations of the poetic lyrics to the sharp edge of black metal rasping). The song suits the imagery in the trailer, and vice-versa; each enhances the other. And speaking of the imagery, this may be an “amateur” work, but the videography is high-quality.
I’m not passing judgment on the themes of ForeBears — I haven’t seen the film, I know nothing about the Bear Cult, and I haven’t tried to wade through all the content on the Atala site. But I have to admit that despite my personal opinions about Varg, I’m intrigued (and of course curious about whether it might include new Burzum music). Here’s the trailer:
(Credit to Grim Kim Kelly via Utmu for the tip about this movie.)