Felsenmusick - The Weblog of Daniel Felsenfeld
The Web Log of a Certain Daniel Felsenfeld: Composer, critic, avid reader, aspiring
bon vivant, capricorn, shadowy figure, advice for the lovelorn

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Two Documentaries

Watching Frank Scheffer's documentary about Elliott Carter A Labyrinth of Time and Tony Palmer's Renee Fleming was unsettling for one reason: both make disturbing, gratuitious use of the image of the burning site of the World Trade Center. Carter seems, in this pretentious documentary, to spend a lot of time gazing out the window on the site of the disaster; Fleming did, in fact, sing "Amazing Grace" at the site, but the film slaps you in the face with it, the famous ruinous facade following hot on the heels of the complete footage of her appearance on Sesame Street (the film's opening sequence).

I think these two artists should certainly be documented, but as someone who survived the crash, why use it? It does not help to understand either one.

That aside, both films are certainly worth watching, typical fripperies aside (Carter acrimoniously laments the lack of talent among American composers as he dotters around his apartment; Ms. Fleming explains why it's tough for her to land a man with her vagabond lifestyle), because how often do we get even glimpses into the private lives of people along these lines. At that point, the quality of the filmmaking--and I have serious issues with both projects--is immaterial. Even the wort, most Frenchified shot of Carter scratching his inscruitable notes carefully onto huge paper with shaking hand, or the footage of Fleming eating a diet bar with Valery Gergiev while listening to their playback of a Verdi Requiem recording, is still needed in a world wherein these activities contain too much mystery. So bravo to both for taking on such "unpopular" subjects and making them a little more available to us, even if the effort is a bit quaint, a little smooth around the edges.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the end I feel it likely that 9/11 is destined to become a kind of "Titanic" moment - where the pretensions of an age which had more power than wisdom were shattered by the overlooked and unforseen disasters that are all out there, waiting to happen. Shocking because it took so many people who are ordinarily not destined to die so young.

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Ernie Hilbert said...

Right on, Danny. - Ernie

5:56 AM  

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