The Barcelona veteran Pere Portabella, in the 1960s already the producer of Buñuel's Viridiana, reveals himself to be just as idiosyncratic and alive and kicking with Silence Before Bach. In its subject and in the structural use of music, the film is reminiscent of Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach by Straub and Huillet. The title refers to the well-known poem by the Swedish poet Lars Gustafsson, The silence of the world before Bach. In it, the significance of Bach for the world and the position of his music in the history of European civilisation is made clear by the simple, poetic thought that there was once a world without Bach's music.
How Bach transformed the world by his music, that's what the film is about. We see fragments in which works of music by Bach and two sonatas by Mendelssohn are performed on authentic instruments, but also on contemporary instruments such as a mouth organ. The setting of the occasionally dramatic, then documentary or pure art or essayist stories is very different - in both time and place: from the 18th-century Thomaskirche in Leipzig where Bach (played by the organist Christian Brembeck) teaches his children, to the 21st-century sets such as the hallucinating scene in which a camera pans backwards through a noisy riding metro train full of cellists. (GT)

International title
The Silence Before Bach
Filmmaker
Pere Portabella
Country
Spain
Year
2007
Medium
35mm
Length
102’
Language
German, Spanish, Italian
Producer
Pere Portabella
Production Company
Films 59
Sales
Films 59
Writer
Carles Santos, Pere Portabella, Xavier Albertí
Cinematography
Tomàs Pladevall
Editor
Òskar Xabier Gómez
Production Design
Quim Roy
Sound Design
Albert Manera
Cast
Àlex Brendemühl, Christian Brembeck
Website
http://pereportabella.com