The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (1968)
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Critic Reviews for The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach
Audience Reviews for The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach
my straub/huillet odyssey begins. the film is very austere and very beautiful. enjoy the music but don't expect an ordinary biopic
In trying to learn about great artists of the past, the one thing we should be concentrating on is whatever creative projects survive to the present day, and worry less about what made them great. Along these same lines, this film takes a modestly revolutionary step by putting the truly wonderful music of Johann Sebastian Bach(Gustav Leonhardt) front of center, as explained in the making-of documentary. Framing the sublime sounds is the life of the composer as narrated by Anna Magdalena(Christiane Lang), Johann's second wife, filling in the gaps of their personal struggles and his career, with minimal extrapolation. One particular episode stands out with Johann's tutorial explaining not only a particular musical instrumment but also the sounds of the era.
Anyone who says they prefer this to Amadeus is probably either: 1) a liar trying to impress you, 2) an asshole who just always has to go against the grain, or 3) just really likes Bach way more than Mozart. Or some combination thereof. The film (if you can call it that) is mostly just people in period costumes, sitting in period locations, playing the music of Bach. Between pieces, there are brief floods of rather dry biographical information from the perspective of Bach's wife, usually about the publication of some music or an attempt to curry favor with one official or another. Once in a while there will be some actual acting (if you can call it that), but it doesn't happen often and it doesn't last long. If you really adore Bach, you might like this, but then why not just pick up a nice album collection with some good liner notes? And if you're not into Bach, this movie probably won't inspire you to get into his work. Of course, the music is wonderful, and it's impressive that it's all been recorded live. But it's all so dull and uncinematic.
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