Directed by the Catalan Pere Portabella, “El Silencio antes de Bach” (The Silence before Bach – US / Die stille vor Bach – Germany) is a truly cinematographic film about beauty in its purest forms. A film about music through music, about beauty through beauty, self-referential and self-conscious. Humble, austere, simple and witty at the same time, like Bach’s variations, it’s cinematographic poetry at his best. In fact, for the 78-year-old Spanish director, music is religion – and there is only Before Bach (BB) and After Bach (AB) [check Village Voice review]. Which, kind of reminds me back, this Emil Cioran‘s quote: “If Bach did not existed, God would have been a second order character“.
“El Silencio…“, is conceived as a music work: tensions are created and released (or not) or reformulated, there are visual leit motivs and textual leit motivs (for instance, the same words spoken by 2 different characters, centuries apart, in different scenes). There are reflections on music, on its formal aspects, on its almost divine reach. And within the almost holistic web of abstract relations created by Portabella, everything could represent beauty itself, even mechanical devices, old river boats or trucks painted with religious icons.
Image – Piano prepares to walk on water in “The Silence Before Bach” (Image taken at Village Voice review: “The Gospel according to Pere Portabella“, Village Voice movies, J. Hoberman, Jan. 22, 2008).