Movie Preview & Review: A-ha: The Movie @ SIFF’s DocFest (9/30 @ the Egyptian) & Online 10/4-7
a-ha (from left to right: Magne Furuholmen, Morten Harket & Pål Waaktaar-Savoy) photo by Thomas Robsahm
A-ha: The Movie documents the lives of Magne Furuholmen, Morten Harket and Pål Waaktaar-Savoy, the three Norwegian musicians who comprise a-ha. Including amazing access to the band with photos, home videos and other previously unshared parts of their lives, the film reveals three hardworking artists who all happen to be perfectionists. Would the film appeal to people not familiar with a-ha as well? Absolutely yes.
The trio’s unprecedented and unequaled success as a Norwegian band came with great benefits – money, wealth, fame, adulation – but it didn’t come without costs. Their friendships suffered under the strain and yet they still gravitate towards one another. With lovely artwork by Svein Kvamme along with the beautiful a-ha music, Furuholmen, Harket and Waaktaar-Savoy each reveals his serious artistry. Furuholmen and Waaktaar-Savoy both paint, while Harket releases solo albums, including 1995’s Wild Seed, which should have been a major international success (that’s not just my opinion; it’s addressed in the film too).
In one way the band was fated to be. Harket was one of the witnesses of the small plane crash that killed Furuholmen’s musician father. Furuholmen felt it was inevitable they’d know each other. In another way, the band was a success based on the sheer will of the guys. They chose to live in poverty in London while trying to break into the music scene and got turned down by Decca Records (who also turned down the Beatles). They were convinced they’d make it. And make it they did, selling 55 million records, and still tour, playing for gigantic audiences.
As a major fan, I need to say thank you to a-ha for what they’ve brought me in my life. And thank you to the directors, Thomas Robsahm and Aslaug Holm for making a sincere a-ha film. They are always more than just the “cartoon band” they worried they’d become after the video for “Take On Me.”