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Il était une fois Jean-Sébastien Bach (2003)

J.S. BACH: THE MUSIC, THE LIFE, THE LEGEND is a dramatic look at the life of Johann Sebastian Bach, a man who dedicated his life to the service of music.


Cast overview, first billed only:
Christian Vadim ...
Narrator (voice)
Jean-Christophe Bach
Daniel Duault ...
Le duc de Weimar
Gwenaël Foucher ...
Alain Floret ...
Monsieur Buxtehüde
Jean Léger ...
Le pasteur d'Arnstadt
Raphaëlle Lenoble ...
Alexandra Buxtehüde
Annette Schreiber ...
Margaretha Bach
Patrick Colucci
Patrick Tessari
Alain Courtioux
Michael Berreby


The film opens with a young Johann Sebastian Bach. , who has just been struck by the first of several painful blows of fate , because he is an orphan at age ten so he is seen walking with his older brother since he will live with him . Bach will learn from his older brother because he is also a professional musician . Bach eventually strikes out on his own and takes the first of several professional music positions . Eventually tragedy strikes him a second time but Bach responds by making more music that , as time has tested it well , has several centuries later still not only stood the test of time but become part of the classical musical world's pantheon. , as proven by so many of his pieces being played year after year on multiple continents . Written by Philip K

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Release Date:

13 August 2003 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Il était une fois... Johann Sebastian Bach  »

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User Reviews

A pilgrimage with camera
29 March 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It's so easy to criticize a movie to its bone marrow, especially this one. Everything was wrong with it, the costumes, the historic details, the Francofication, the acting, the costumes, the absence of God in his life, the musical performances. But.. I have to say, I did finish watching the movie, while I usually am very quick hitting the stop button. Behind all the frivolous nonsense I saw a movie made by people who were madly in love with this man and his music. That's why they retraced his steps literally, because they were on a pilgrimage with a camera. It reminded me of The Mill and The Cross, which is about a painting of Pieter Breugel the Elder by that title. Although the historic depiction in this movie seems to be more accurate, that is not the point of the movie. The point is to literally enter the aforementioned painting. You can't 'enter' music like you can enter a painting, but, what these film makers seemed to be doing was to go to places where Bach was breathing hoping to inhale a few of the molecules Bach once exhaled. To me it felt that they were using the actors as a vehicle to get closer to their idol. It worked for me. Again, as a movie it wouldn't get a passing grade at any film school, but, as a means of transferring passion, it worked phenomenal, after wards I listened to Bach's music for many hours and I can't wait until Easter when the St Matthew's Passion will be performed.

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