Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Lezione Ventuno / Lesson Twenty-one
to all my readers.....
This is my return to blogging after yet another prolonged absence,
despite my promise to keep up with posts with a regularity, I had to abstain
from blogging, one of my passions, due to unavoidable reasons.
Today I would like to talk about a film that I have seen very recently.
It is a rather obscure film, not seen by many in this part of the world.
Lezione Ventuno/Lesson Twenty-one (2008) is a film by Italian director Alessandro Baricco.
It is not an easy film. It is - in my opinion - a unique film that combines several unorthodox techniques.
It is at the same time a lesson in art, music and transliteration.
The literary feel can make the viewer jittery and even abandon the film midway.
Yet, if one is patient, and even laborious, one is likely to be rewarded with a keen insight and a marvelous musical journey that is more verbose than musically captivating.
The musical underpinnings are captured effectively through an astounding piece of cinematography that the film is - richly capturing the wild, snowy outdoors as well as the outlandish sets with gregariously costumed players.
In spite of seemingly offering an intellectual treatise on the Ninth Symphony of Bethoven, it actually explores the constituents in the man deemed both an artistic genius and an eccentric oddity.
A deep reflection helps us fathom the different points of view, that are presented to us.
There are strange ideas, beautiful dream-like depictions and paradoxical sensations that are thrown at us from the opening frame of the film, and which culminate in the final monologue of the professor played by John Hurt. Hurt is wonderful as Professor Mondrian Kilroy who, though not loved by his colleagues at the University, is much appreciated by students. Lesson 21 is his deliberation in which he attempts to dismantle the myth of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with particular reference to the 'anthem of joy'. It is the students themselves who perpetuate the memory of that particular lesson.
On 7th May, 1824 Beethoven had held the first public performance of his much acclaimed Ninth Symphony in Vienna. The symphony was conducted by the deaf composer and it is much debated how much cherished it became after the first performance. In the winter of that very year was found, in a frozen lake, near Vienna, the corpse of a violinist who died of hypothermia while playing. His hand shook so hard the handle of the instrument that it was not possible to remove them.
Professor Kilroy had a student favorite, Martha. She is the one who seeks exploration for herself as well as for us viewers. And that forms the crux of the film.
Other than John Hurt, the cast includes: Noah Taylor, Clive Russell, Leonor Watling, Tim Barlow, Natalia Tena, Andy Gathergood, Daniel Tuite, Rasmus Hardiker, Phyllida Law, Adrian Moore, Matthew Reynolds, and Franco Pistons.