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The Great Composers - Claude D
As Romanticism was replaced with Impressionism in the early 20th century Claude Debussy became its most influential composer breaking with traditional form and harmony. This documentary explores Debussy's life and work evoking the tumultuous times that gave rise to his progressive and innovative music. Structured around his String Quartet this release evokes the Paris literary salons and caf life within which Debussy moved with directors Benoit Pilon and Bernar H bert delivering a poetic interpretation that perfectly suits the poetry of the music.System Requirements:Running Time: 47 MinutesFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: MUSICALS/MUSICALS Rating: NR UPC: 842977024999 Manufacturer No: FMGDV92499
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But watching it, I could not help but wonder why the makers choose this piece as the center of a Debussy documentary. It is without doubt beautiful, yet it lacks certain qualities and innovations that become more apparent in his later works. This means that the most important aspects in Debussy's style - fluid tonality, exceptional use of instrumentation- are not discussed at all. Also, the biographical information supplied is superficial and incomplete, and the individual movements of the string quartet are embellished by scenes showing people drinking coffee, ladies fanning themselves or lascivious dancers in exotic costumes, which is somewhat off putting and has no informative value or in fact any relation to the music heard.
All in all there is no need at all to buy this DVD, just buy a sound recording of the string quartet, another one of Debussy's orchestral works and consult your local library for a Debussy biography and you will learn much more. In fact, Wikipedia is more informative!
Needless to say, this DVD is quite a disappointment.
The narrator states that Schubert was chubby and short, yet the dancer portraying him was lean and at least of average height. The real Schubert and Beethoven had chin dimples, but the dancers portraying them did not, unfortunately. The work states that Schubert had failed relationships with women, however, other sources say his romantic preferences are a matter of dispute. By having the dancer who played Schubert dancing with a man, this may have been the rainbow flag signifier for those in the know.
This work pleased me and gave me the rudimentary knowledge of the composer that I sought. However, others may think the facts were edited in such as way as to give a reason for the accompanying dance. For example, the narrator says Schubert admired Beethoven but never met him and then one see a dance between the man portraying Schubert and one portraying Beethoven. First, it's hard to believe that a middle-aged Beethoven would dance ballet. Moreover, Schubert's admiration for his peer may not have composed one huge chunk of his life; but it merely gave a good reason to have another ballet scene.
The first dance piece is a homoerotic performance. It occurs before the narrator even says "homosexuality." However, when the narrator begins by calling Tchaikovsky a sensitive boy who was devoted to his mother, he raises tropes of a feminine boy that some could read a certain way. I once read a book about Tchaikovsky that spoke more about gay life in Britain for Oscar Wilde than for Russia and Tchaikovsky's peers. By including a homoerotic performance, this film tries to picture what gay life would have been like for the composer. For those who don't support gay rights are ardently as I do (and think others should), please note that every other dance performance includes Tchaikovsky's dancing with women.
I read a book that said Tchaikovsky always referred to his sexuality with the letter Z (which is near the beginning of the Russian alphabet, not the end like in English), but that doesn't come up here. Another book said he may have had a romantic relationship with Camille Saint-Saens, but that is not brought up here either.
If you liked the art house film about Vaslav Najinsky that was released around 2000, then you'll like this even more so.
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- Movies & TV > Documentary
- Movies & TV > Music Video & Concerts
- Movies & TV > Musicals & Performing Arts > Classical > By Composer > Debussy, Claude
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- Music > Classical > Chamber Music > By Period
- Music > Classical > Historical Periods > Classical (c.1770-1830)