Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts (2008) - Rotten Tomatoes

Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts (2008)



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Shine director Scott Hicks documents a year in the life of prolific composer Philip Glass in order to explore the work that goes into creating a symphony and offer a detailed overview of his subject's remarkable career. Glass may be a composer whose name is virtually synonymous with the minimalist music movement, but one shouldn't be so quick to pigeonhole the composer. A musician who is outwardly confident and at times unpredictable, Glass works tirelessly to create a composition entitled Symphony No. 8 for orchestra, as well as an opera entitled Waiting for the Barbarians. Additional conversations with Glass's family and friends highlight how the composer is able to retain his creative spirit while simultaneously remaining a devoted family man. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovimore
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Musical & Performing Arts, Documentary
Directed By:
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 21, 2009
Koch Lorber Films - Official Site

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Critic Reviews for Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts

All Critics (32) | Top Critics (11)

Hicks structures Glass in 12 vignettes, each highlighting a different aspect of Glass' life, and some are more compelling than others.

Full Review… | July 18, 2008
Seattle Times
Top Critic

A hair's breadth from hagiography, Scott Hicks's Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts is much like its subject: affable, quotable and emotionally guarded in the extreme.

Full Review… | April 18, 2008
New York Times
Top Critic

As fascinating as Glass often is, it's simultaneously too conventional and not conventional enough.

Full Review… | April 17, 2008
AV Club
Top Critic

A stupefyingly dull portrait of a man who doesn't seem to be lying when he says, "I have so few secrets."

Full Review… | April 16, 2008
Village Voice
Top Critic

As haunting in its own way as one of Glass' own works.

Full Review… | April 14, 2008
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

An entertaining pic that will fascinate admirers but is wide-ranging and unpretentious enough to engage those intimidated by Glass' aesthetic.

December 27, 2007
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts

"Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts" is an illuminating documentary, perhaps too much so, of the life and career of the famed composer, whose work I know mostly through his film work, starting with "Koyaanisqatsi" which a college friend watched repeatedly until an intervention had to be staged. So, it should come as no surprise, that my favorite part of this documentary is the segment with Errol Morris, Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese talking about their collaborations with him. There is also ample time given over to Glass' philosophy which informs some of the projects he has worked on over the years.(Why it does seem everybody famous gets photographed with the Dalai Lama?) And what starts off as simply providing background information on his personal life and marriage to a much younger woman(There is a joking reference to a guideline that a man should marry a woman who is one half his age plus seven which I also remember from The Autobiography of Malcolm X) takes on a life of its own as there emerges a sense of his failing to balance his work and personal life adequately in preparing a new opera in Germany. While most men his age in their seventies are more likely starting to retire and relax, Glass' pace is picking up as he pushes himself to write the music that is filling his head while keeping himself in excellent physical shape at the same time. Not only that, but he also starts a new family to whose attention he cannot give his fullest. I do not think that has anything to do with my thinking that men should stop reproducing at the age of 50 and am loath to ever be put into the position I find myself here to comment on somebody else's personal life. Instead, I would have preferred the writing, crafting and performing of the opera to be used as a framing device and given more attention in general.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer


MIFF '08: To end the festival this year, I saw Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts - and how 'indie doco' do they want to make that title?! They may as well have just called it Glass: Philip in D-Minor or some shit. Anyway, I fell asleep twice - never a good sign. The film offered very few insights into his film work, which was what I was interested in. Instead, it looked more at his symphonies and his home life. It seriously seemed like his marriage with Holly was about to collapse. But having to live with someone who clearly never stops working...what else could you expect? The brief appearances of Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese added little to the film, and for at least five of the "Twelve Parts" I was as bored senseless. It sucks to end the festival on such a low, but on the whole, this was a very good year.

Robert Fearon

Super Reviewer


This was an interesting look into the life of a very diverse composer. Going beyond the glory, it shows the hard work that Philip Glass puts into each composition, his messy lifestyle, the strains on his marriage, and the impressive number of projects that he constantly undertakes, even at age 70! I like the form of the piece, split into twelve parts and appropriately organized like the music of this composer. This is a great documentary for anyone who has an interest in Glass's unique minimalistic/repetative style or who would like to take a look into the world of a composer.

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