Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Touch the Sound

Thomas Riedelsheimer, 2004, Germany (8.2*)
The most sought after percussionist in the world is Dame Evelyn Glennie, a dimunitive woman from Scotland who was voted "Scottish woman of the decade". She is considered to be the first person to have a career as a solo percussionist. She can play anything that can be beaten with sticks, plastic tubes, horsehair bows, or really anything handy she happens to pick up. Even more amazing: she started going deaf at age 8, and by age 12 was designated to be 'profoundly deaf'. She wanted to continue her music career, so she was taught how to feel the sound of drums by touching them with her hands, and she can now perceive tones in her body.

In this film, director Riedelsheimer explores not only her music, but also what drives her creativity internally. She knows how to appreciate a Zen-like silence, saying that 'silence is one of the loudest sounds she's heard'. We are shown Dame Evelyn playing solo, creating improvisations with fellow experimental musician Fred Frith in a large vacant warehouse, and playing drums with some Japanese koto drummers, who say that it all comes from breathing.

She is an amazing woman, knighted before age 40, and is unlike anyone else you will see on film. A virtuoso adult musician, she seems to have the same inquisitive curiosity about sound that children have exploring their surroundings. This film won 5 awards at film festivals, most for best documentary. I lowered the rating a little due to less concentration on Evelyn's music and more on the visual aspects of her life.

Thomas Riedelsheimer makes gripping documentaries about uniquely talented individuals that most will never hear in the mass media. Rivers and Tides is about environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy, and is an arresting visual film, while this one is more awe-inspiring for it's audio.

Here is a clip of Evelyn playing a marimba solo from the film:


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Artist, photographer, composer, author, blogger, metaphysician, herbalist

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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