Innovative sounds and striking visuals combine to form an exquisite cinematic work that's both a portrait of hearing-impaired percussionist Evelyn Glennie and a radical reexamination of sensory experience. This beautiful documentary begins with Glennie taking in the sights and sounds of New York City. But not until we've followed her from the massive echo...read more
Innovative sounds and striking visuals combine to form an exquisite cinematic work that's both a portrait of hearing-impaired percussionist Evelyn Glennie and a radical reexamination of sensory experience. This beautiful documentary begins with Glennie taking in the sights and sounds of New York City. But not until we've followed her from the massive echo chamber that is Grand Central Station, where Glennie bangs away on her favorite percussive instrument the stand-up snare drum to an industrial space in Cologne, Germany, where Glennie prepares to record an improvised session with the British musician Fred Frith, do we learn that this altogether fascinating artist is technically deaf. Born on a farm in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, Glennie began experiencing hearing loss at the age of 8, around the time she started learning to play piano. By 13, an audiologist decreed that Glennie was no longer capable of playing music and should receive the rest of her education at a school for the deaf. Luckily, Glennie's father would have none of it. He insisted on keeping her in the mainstream school she'd been attending, where she continued to do well with a little help from friends and dedicated teachers. Glennie, for her part, not only continued in her passionate pursuit of music, but switched from piano to drums and soon learned the secret of percussion: It can be experienced by the entire body, not just the ears. Sound, she realized, could be touched. Glennie would go on to become one of the music world's most acclaimed percussionists, bold, intense and endlessly innovative. How much of what she was hearing with her ears alone seemed hardly worth mentioning. Unlike German director Thomas Riedelsheimer's previous film, RIVERS AND TIDES (2003), in which the earthworks of Glennie's compatriot, Andy Goldsworthy, give the camera a physical, if often transitory, visual focal point, sound can't be "seen"; by the same token, viewers can't "feel" cinema the way Glennie "hears" music. With his audience deprived of a key sense, Riedelsheimer's subject becomes sensory experience itself, and his attempts to communicate the essence of what Glennie does through his own art bears striking resemblance to Glennie's approach to sound. Together, they make beautiful, exquisite music.
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