Docs about Music

film 3 of 4

Arvo Pärt: 24 Preludes for a Fugue

Film Review by Dean Duncan May 26, 2015

Someone involved with this has obviously seen François Girard’s Glenn Gould film. That one had a reason for its structural conceit (the Goldberg Variations), and even better, it superbly, practically perfectly executed that conceit. There’s no such coherence in this one, which evokes structure and then basically meanders. Where’s the link, what’s the connection between these film fragments and the partial performance—of a piece that is clearly not a fugue—that closes the film? There isn’t one.

We do meander through some good stuff, mind you. Part seems a lovely man, and the glimpses of his circle (wife!), the hints of his inner life and belief and soul are very appealing. On a practical level, this is very good, if pretty indirect, on the logistical realities of a composer’s life—multi-linguality, commissions and residencies and constructing a kind of persona while you’re trying to make your art. And the art itself, as little as we actually get of it, is pretty stunning. The longitudinal photo montage that accompanies the final performance is also lovely. That’s partly because we see this interesting guy, always with his kindly, animated countenance, go from infancy to age in front of us. That’s mostly because, Part or not, this is a universal trajectory, moving and recognizable no matter whose face is before us.