The Silence Before Bach Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 5 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: The Silence Before Bach is a mélange of genres including narrative vignettes and documentary sequences on the theme of the transformational power of great music. At one moment his camera records a subway car packed with passionate cello-playing musicians; at another he is following a guide who gives tours of Leipzig dressed in full Bach regalia; and in a third he stages Felix Mendelssohn’s discovery of sheet music for the “St. Matthew Passion” used by a butcher to wrap meat. By turns funny and serious, poignant, sexy and refreshing, "The Silence Before Bach" is very nearly unclassifiable, like so much of Portabella’s oeuvre. (Film Forum)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. 75
    Unless you are offended by a little female nudity, The Silence Before Bach will shock you not. But it will provide gorgeous lensing and art direction and some of the world's most beautiful music.
  2. 75
    Portabella has no interest in conventional biography -- it's hard not to suspect that he included the tale of Felix Mendelsson (Daniel Ligorio) discovering the score for the "St. Matthew Passion" wrapping a meat delivery precisely BECAUSE it's probably apocryphal.
  3. Reviewed by: Ronnie Scheib
    Arguably stronger conceptually than visually, surreal mix of the unexpected and the banal is definitely not to everybody's taste. But the music is inarguably sublime.
  4. 70
    Not only very civilized--this cool, deliberate film suggests that Bach's music is the quintessence of European civilization.
  5. The film demands engagement and a kind of surrender, a willingness to enter into a work shaped by correlation, metaphor and metonymy, by beautiful images and fragments of ideas, a work that locates the music in the twitching of a dog’s ears, in the curve of a woman’s belly, a child’s song and an adult’s reverie.
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