Archive for July 28th, 2008

The Silence Before Bach: This Amazing Film NOT Available on DVD/VHS!

July 28, 2008

There are some films which simply enrich your soul. They take you to another place and time, where you experience sights and sounds you haven’t seen in that way before. They change the very way in which you see the world. THE SILENCE BEFORE BACH is one of those films. I know very little about Bach. (It’s not my fault, I’m from L.A., a place whose only contribution to culture is the ability to turn right on a red light. (Re: Mr. W. Allen). I am hurt. We have also contributed silicone breasts and thongs!) This film makes me want to immerse myself in his music. At times it was almost too beautiful to hear. The language used is lyrical, contributing so much to the enjoyment of the film: “Only if you have ideas can you decide against them”, “Without Bach, God would be 3rd-rate”, “A recipe is not dogma”. It starts out with a series of empty gallery rooms, and after touring them, suddenly a player piano starts up, moving on it’s own, twisting and turning, filling each empty room with the joy of Bach. It’s an amazing image and lovely introduction to Bach’s glorious sounds. After all our journeys to experience Bach in so very many moving, visually striking, spectacular and amusing ways, we come back to that very same player piano in the gallery, now having such a deeper appreciation of the man’s music, the camera focuses on the paper being fed into the piano to create the music, on the actual notes that dictate the sounds, and it stuns you that this man had all this IN HIS HEAD, and was able to give it to the world. Genius!

I recommend the use of waterproof mascara.

I really don’t want to describe the actual film itself too much as, well, it’s indescribable, any attempts I make to do so would come out banal. It MUST BE EXPERIENCED to be appreciated. I will say it uses imagery, music (obviously), actors to play Bach/others in set in his time, choral groups, river trips, fantastic architecture and loosely interwoven personal stories to create a musical collage, to let us into how others on the planet who have spent their lives studying him live. Some of my favorite scenes are with large groups, like the cellists playing on a subway, as well as pianists in a piano store making his music. I think one of my absolute favorite images is, after we have taken a trip down (I believe it’s the Pleisse? or the Elbe?) and it’s been explained to us how many different musicians have been influenced by it, how rivers both inspire but can be scarred from the events that occur in and around them, a piano is thrown into one. I love the idea of a “river of song” and the violence that accompanies every act of creation. It’s a beautiful, funny and haunting film. Enjoy!