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Carmina burana (1975)

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Title: Carmina burana (1975)

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Credited cast:
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Music | Drama





Release Date:

11 July 1975 (West Germany)  »

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Did You Know?


Carmina burana
Music by Carl Orff
Performed by Lucia Popp, Hermann Prey, John van Kesteren
Conducted by Kurt Eichhorn
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User Reviews

A love of life.... and sex!
27 August 2010 | by (The San Francisco Bay Area) – See all my reviews

I'd heard much about this film, but wasn't sure how anyone could possibly stage what is essentially an a-capella chorus. Me, I had my own ideas of how and what I wanted to shoot, but alas I wasn't sure how it could be done, nor think that any film maker would take on the challenge.

Like a lot of young males my age I first heard Orff's music in Boorman's "Excalibur". The music itself (and if you can't understand Latin) is very pretentious with a sense of urgency, and is also operatic in scope (no obvious self referential pun intended). Orff infuses a great deal of joy and magnificence in his composition and arrangements, to a level that I think most others would envy. I know I do. However Boorman, being a film maker and interested only in the image of thing to convey a message, chose the wrong music for his movie. "Excalibur" tells of Arthurian legends, where battles take place, strife, struggle, honor and deep angst, where Orff's piece is supposed to be a celebration of life, as the Latin tells. Did Boorman really mean some other message with Orff's music when he put it in during the battle sequences? Ehh... maybe, but I doubt it. To Boorman it was just really cool sounding music, so he dumped it in his film.

But, to the film: Sex. There's a lot of sexual references in this thing. So much that one wonders if director Gerhard Schmidt-Gaden had anything else in mind (or on his mind for that matter during shooting) when he conceived this project. But, he's not the only one, for Orff himself wrote the piece as an ode and celebration of life. The message is to not take life too seriously, and to enjoy life for what it is. If that means finding the person of your fancy and bedding them, then so be it.

We don't see much sex, just a lot of sexual imagery and innuendo. There's the whole Christian thing going on here conflicting with people's natural instincts and desires. All the high minded spiritual stuff is there, but essentially gets shelved, for men and women need one another. The two meet, fancy one another, and the woman challenges her man to prove his worth. He rises to the occasion, and through the struggle they come to couple. "It's the way of things" (to borrow from Boorman).

I first saw Orff's music performed by the San Francisco Symphony and chorus. It was very moving if somewhat bland by the visuals. However the German film makers here have put together a tapestry of inner desires, and the joys of living and being with the one you LOVE. Not the one you're forced with, not the one your parents or guardians chose for you, but the one you chose, and the one who chose you. That is the true message of Orff's piece.

Visually and stylistically the film may be a bit much for some people, but then again it was created and designed for the artsy classical music crowd, me included. It's shot indoors, lots of lighting, some adequate lip-syncing, lots of sexual imagery, and a very energetic and enthusiastic cast who tell the tale of want, desire and need of not just man, but of all creatures as time goes on. Lots of props, costumes, even a few FX/process shots, all amount to a unique look to this film.

Criticisms? My only one is that I haven't had a chance to shoot my version... as yet ;-)

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