Living with Lava


Living with Lava

Review by Laura Nicholson.


Focusing on the past, present and future, Living with Lava is a documentary that will leave viewers in awe of Iceland’s beautiful landscapes but fearful of the power and destruction caused by the country’s many volcanoes. Living with Lava is a film by Theo Maximilian Goble, an experienced editor and director from England. Viewers may already be familiar with Goble’s work as he is the lead editor for the reality show MasterChef. Goble’s extensive experience is obvious and makes Living with Lava a joy to watch. The film focuses on three major volcanoes: Eldfell, Eyjafjallajökull and Katla. Behind every volcanic eruption are the stories of those affected. The film crew does a superior job documenting the unique viewpoints as told by Icelanders themselves (with their stories being subtitled into English).

living_with_lava_film_still_02A still from the film.

Each volcano was interesting for its own reasons, but learning about the after effects of the infamous Eyjafjallajökull (meaning ‘island mountain glacier) on its nearby residents was the most fascinating because of its recent eruption in 2010. The viewers are introduced to Ólafur, a farmer who operates a family farm at the base of Eyjafjallajökull. Ólafur describes what a privilege it is to have a volcano in his backyard, despite the massive cleanup that occurred after the eruption. Ólafur’s account is one of the many fascinating and unique stories the film documents. While the stories of the eruptions were told firsthand by those affected a narrator was used to keep the flow of the film moving and to detail important facts about each volcano. The narration, however, distracted me as the narrator spoke way too slowly and I felt she put odd emphasis on certain words. I often found myself focusing more on the narration, rather than on what was actually being said.


What sets Living with Lava apart from other documentaries is the music used throughout. It invoked many different emotions in me and is perhaps the best use of music I have encountered in a documentary. Set against the stunning backdrop of various Icelandic nature scenes, the music perfectly complemented what was on screen or what was to come. After watching the film, it is easy to see why it has won so many awards. It was a finalist at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in Canada and garnered the title of Official Selection at the International Film Festival of Peace, Equality and Inspiration in Indonesia among many others. The film was also selected as the 2013-2014 Icelandic National League of North America’s Donald K. Johnson Icelandic Film Series and as such has been screening across North America.

Anyone who has been to Iceland or longs to visit will be in awe of this powerful and informative documentary.


Living with Lava will be screened in Gimli and Brandon, Manitoba, later this month, and in Ottawa on December 12. Click here for more information about the film.

More Reviews