Megas and Grimur - The Punkmeister and the Pietist

Megas (Magnus Þór Jónsson, 1945) occupies a central place in Iceland as a singer, songwriter and writer. Influenced by rock and roll and folk music, his work is also deeply rooted in classical Icelandic poetry.

He has, in particular, had a lifelong interest in the Hymns of the Passion by Hallgrimur Petursson (1614-1674) whose baroque poetry holds a special place in Icelandic culture and is solemnly recited at the radio every Easter.

In the seventies, Megas composed music to all of the 50 Hymns of Hallgrimur and interpreted them in his unique way. This could be compared to someone like Tom Waits putting music to Milton's Paradise Lost or John Donne's poems.

In the documentary Megas and Grimur, Megas explains what he finds fascinating about Hallgrimur's 17th century's poetry, how Iceland's "punkmeister" found common ground with the pietist of old. Various collaborators of Megas describe his way of working, and we hear him discussing the Hymns with his uncle, Nobel Prize author Halldor Laxness. The composer Thordur Magnusson, son of Megas, also describes how he worked on the arrangements of the Hymns in collaboration with his father and conductor Hilmar Orn Agnarsson. Young girls who were members of one of the choirs relate how the 17th Century's poems resonated with them.


About the film

  • Type
  • National Premiere Date
    March 24, 2016
  • Length
    60 min.
  • Language
  • Original Title
    Megas og Grímur
  • International Title
    Megas and Grimur - The Punkmeister and the Pietist
  • Production Year
  • Production Countries
  • Premiere TV Channel
  • Icelandic Film Centre Grant
  • Production Format
  • Aspect Ratio
  • Color
  • Sound

Company Credits