a-ha: The Movie
This loving portrait of the Norwegian band, whose most famous song defined an era, highlights how they are more than a one-hit wonder.
With one song, a-ha soundtracked an infinite number of teen romances, established them as masters of 1980s synth-pop and in lead singer Morten Harken gave the world a new heartthrob. They followed it with a number of other singles and even the theme song to a Bond film. But for most people, the band will always be defined by ‘Take on Me’. That timeless hit, along with Steve Barron’s innovative and influential accompanying music video immortalised them. But as Thomas Robsahm’s film shows, the band have always been much more than just that song.
Over the course of the last 35 years, a-ha have sold 50 million albums, toured regularly and still have a sizeable international following. Robsahm returns to the group’s working class roots, detailing their struggle to find success. ‘Take on Me’ wasn’t an overnight sensation. At least, not in the versions prior to the proper single release. That song’s gestation would deserve a film in itself – the star of which would be producer Alan Tarney, whose masterstroke was to free Harken’s impressive vocal range, allowing it to take flight in the song’s chorus. And with its rise up the charts, the film shows how Harken was transformed into a pop idol. Those chiselled cheekbones still look impressive today, as Morten and his band mates entertainingly regale a career that may have hit its peak early, but has not been without incident since.