RHYTHM IS IT! records the first big educational project of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle. The orchestra ventured out of the ivory tower of high culture into ... See full summary »
RHYTHM IS IT! records the first big educational project of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Simon Rattle. The orchestra ventured out of the ivory tower of high culture into boroughs of low life for the sake of 250 youngsters. They had been strangers to classical music, but after arduous but thrilling preparation they danced to Stravinsky's 'Le Sacre du Printemps' ('The Rite of Spring'). Recorded with a breathtaking fidelity of sound, this film from Thomas Grube and Enrique Sánchez Lansch documents the stages of the Sacre project and offers deep insights into the rehearsals of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Written by
BOOMTOWN MEDIA BERLIN
I'm a big, big fan of The Rite of Spring. I've probably heard it a zillion times, read the score along with it, read just about everything there is to know about it. The basic idea behind "Rhythm is It!" seems to be that to perfectly capture the primal energy that drives Stravinsky's piece, one has to use young, angry people who will somehow channel their energy through the performance.
We follow three persons in particular throughout the film. A girl and two boys, one of them German and the other from Nigeria. The German is portrayed as a cynical lone wolf, while the Nigerian is eternally cheerful and a fountain of tribal wisdom. The producers turn this guy into a racist caricature of Africans; they even have him dancing along with a buddy to some sugary symphonic polyrhythms. I got the feeling that the aim of the movie is to show how these people grow and change throughout the rehearsals, but since none of them really change, it was in all likelihood up to the editor to splice together the footage so the inspirational feel of the documentary was kept intact.
The documentary has a slick, polished feel to it. It is lighted and scored like it were a feature film, except for the parts where the "downs" come. Of course, the choreographer gets to the point where he is sick and tired of the whole thing, and doesn't think it'll work.. blah blah blah. We see their performance after five weeks, and of course, it's terrible and unfocused. These parts are shot in video without lighting. But when the dress rehearsal and performance start, it's all filmed with MTV style editing and professional lighting where you'll see a flash of this, a flash of that and never really get an impression of how it all worked out. Again, to ensure that we get the warm, fuzzy feeling of an inspirational documentary, cinematic techniques are used to cover the flaws and mistakes in character and performance.
I guess I shouldn't be too cynical about this. The attempt at making the Rite of Spring relevant again has worked out great (the movie was a huge success in Germany), and I'm sure its target audience of secondary school classes and families appreciate it much more than I do. It's just that with a subject matter as intense as this piece, one would have appreciated a bit more honesty, and a bit more truth.
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