The Silence Before Bach

Pere Portabella | 2007 | ★★★★
Mixing historical reconstruction with contemporary documentary footage, Portabella’s oft sublime film examines the life and continuing influence of Johann Sebastian Bach, with the great German composer’s music, rather than any of his life experiences, providing its backbone. Taking an appropriately lyrical approach to its narrative structure, the film is composed of a series of century-straddling, barely on-topic vignettes. Highlights include: a train carriage full of musicians playing, in tandem, Bach’s most famous cello suite; a piano being dropped into the sea in complete silence; and Mendelsohn’s butcher waxing lyrical about meat recipes.