Sunday, February 14, 2016

Christianity is a second-rate religion without Bach

Die Stille vor Bach (2007) - Portabello
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Catalan director Pere Portabella pays tribute to Bach and his glorious music in Die Stille vor Bach, a film that takes many forms. It starts with an empty gallery space as we go through room to room and finally finds a player piano on a automated dolly, playing Goldberg Variations while milling about. We jump to two truck drivers talking about what they do to take the stress of the job off- they play chamber music. Then we jump to a blind piano tuner and his dog, and so on and so on. The film includes reenactments, anecdotes, legends, musical segments in various places, dressage, female nudity, St. Thomas church where Bach was a Cantor and wrote many religious pieces, etc. Camera always floats around like a piece of fluid music and it's a very engaging, elegant filmmaking. The music is really great. One tells the other, quoting "Christianity is a second rate religion without Bach's music". The current cantor of St. Thomas tells the new recruit, a Catalonian musician who looks like a Botticelli painting, that many students are agnostic when they come in, but before they have their first concert at St. Thomas, they all ask to be baptized. Die Stille reminds me of two other unconventional music films I've seen- 32 Short Films about Glenn Gould and Herzog's Gesualdo: Death for Five Voices.

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