It is six o’clock on a Wednesday in early December. My husband and I are at a movie theater, sitting in a small auditorium with a handful of other people. Right outside its doors, Iceland’s capital awaits us covered in snow that illuminates the arctic darkness.
We have come to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, a Hollywood blockbuster action film that will make for a welcome distraction from everyday life.
Cue the usual slideshow of advertisements: Tire changing garages, fast food joints, hair salons, bakeries, banking services and fitness centers…
Suddenly everything goes dark. And silent.
Then, Hollywood star Ben Stiller appears on the silver screen.
This is the trailer for his upcoming film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which he directed and starred in. Based on a James Thurber short story, it was first adapted for a film in 1947.
Large parts of this adventure comedy film were shot in Iceland last summer, mostly in Stykkishólmur, located on West Iceland’s Snæfellsnes peninsula.
Last summer, I spent a week there with my family. Naturally we visited the town’s breathtaking Library of Water, perching on a steep hill overlooking the seaside village, which is perhaps Iceland’s most picturesque.
The brainchild of U.S. artist Roni Horn, the Library of Water contains glass columns containing crystal clear samples from some of Iceland’s major glaciers, some of which are endangered due to climate change.
During our chat with the museum’s host, the conversation led to the making of the Hollywood movie; not a daily occurrence in a place such as this one.
“He rented the house right below us for himself and his family during the filming,” she said pointing at a large house right below us.
“He was extremely nice to everybody here. I think that because everyone was so relaxed around him, he actually thought we had never heard of him…” she added with a big smile on her face.
But I digress…
Sitting in that darkened movie theater, watching the trailer had an enormous effect on me. And it wasn’t just the image of Ben Stiller performing an action scene in quaint old Stykkishólmur.
It was the music.
Starting with some gentle guitar chords, we are introduced to Walter Mitty, completely lost in his mundane and bleak urban existence.
Soon, a female singer joins in. “Jumping up and down the floor ... My head is an animal” ... she sings in her signature broken, delicate voice.
As the song gains momentum with percussion, strings and brass, Walter Mitty is swept into a magical world via the photographs he is working on for LIFE magazine.
And during his extraordinary adventures in raging seas and rugged mountains, the song is the perfect driving force.
It is hard to describe the feeling that rushed over me during these two minutes and three seconds.
The song, entitled ‘Dirty Paws,’ is by Icelandic pop sensation Of Monsters and Men.
According to Billboard, the song has, since the release of the trailer, seen a significant sales spike, breathing new life into it almost two years after being published as a track on the band’s debut album My Head is an Animal.
Trailers rarely generate sales spikes for unknown songs, and part of that owes to film studios not usually relying on a single song for an entire trailer. Often they use a mix of score and song, frequently using music that doesn’t appear in the film, the Billboard article also explains. ‘Dirty Paws’ is the rare song to make the transition from a film into a trailer.
Having begun their career only a couple of years ago by winning a local music concert for youngsters called ‘Músíktilraunir,’ Of Monsters and Men are now among the world’s most successful bands.
In the past year and the half they have traveled all across the globe, giving countless sold out concerts to millions of devoted fans.
They have performed on Saturday Night Live, Jay Leno and other world famous TV shows.
They have climbed to dizzying heights at the world’s music charts.
And they’ve only just begun.
Funnily enough, as I already mentioned, the film that awaited us at the end of that magnificent movie trailer was The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
One of the most popular songs of the film’s soundtrack?
By Of Monsters and Men.
Ásta Andrésdóttir - firstname.lastname@example.org