Once Upon a Time in Norway is the story of Norway’s biggest export: black metal.
The doc is basically an oral history of the beginnings of this extreme genre of metal, as told through interviews with those who were integral in its creation; at least those who are still around to talk about it.
The band Mayhem is one of the originators of black metal, a style of metal that was faster and heavier than most other genres of metal, and that was called “black” because it was also darker than typical metal. Before watching this doc the one thing I knew about Mayhem was that their lead singer shot himself in the head and the picture of the aftermath was used as the band’s next album cover. That event is explained in this doc, along with others that equally fit the “dark” imagery they depicted in their music.
Because the doc is put together through back to back interviews with members of Mayhem, Emperor and Cadaver, among other Norwegian metal bands from the mid-to-late ’80s and early ’90s, it shares interesting stories, but not much more than you could just read about with the same amount of intrigue. Also, for a music doc, there’s only roughly two minutes of black metal played throughout the film. If you have some spare time today I suggest you look up ‘Norwegian black metal,’ ‘Mayhem’ and/or ‘Øystein Aarseth’ online.