Monday, April 21, 2008

Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould

"Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould" (François Girard, 2003) One of the little hallmarks in Canadian Cinema, despite being only a few years old. Girard's exercise in using separate short films to encapsulate a biography (rather than finding some artificial--and usually false--element to bridge incidents in a life) uses Gould's particularly particular performances as a back-drop for an examination of the man and his ideas--the music being part and parcel of those. Gould abandoned a career as a concert pianist in 1964, for philosophical and political reasons, and turned to the studio for the pursuit of his conquering--creating definitive interpretations--of pieces, composing experimental works, and doing research into the sound of concrete music, natural sound and producing radio plays--soundscapes--exploring a theme. Girard slights none of it, and while he's at it, explores various ways of presenting filmed music, whether it's background--as mood-setter--or as filmed foreground--as inspiration, rationalization, or realization. Music is as much a character in the film as Gould (portrayed by Colm Feore), and it is its mad muse that creates the pace and even the filming style of many, many of the pieces. You begin to look at music differently--and film-making in general. "Thirty Two Films about Glenn Gould" is as much an experiment in form and interpretation as "Fantasia," and zeroes in on its biographical subject as well. You may not know all there is to know about Glenn Gould's life, but you get to know the man, and the interests he pursued. You'll also begin to think about what he thought. And you'll stop counting at "4."

What more could you ask from a film?

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