‘The starting point for our Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach was the idea to make a film where we used music not as accompaniment, nor as commentary, but as aesthetic matter…. In practical terms, you could say that we tried to bring music to life on screen, to show, for once, music to filmgoers’. (Jean-Marie Straub, 1966).
Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach
was a project long-cherished by Straub and Huillet, who had to wait years before they could finance it. It is a remarkable film about the music and life of Johann-Sebastian Bach as told factually from the perspective of his wife through documents, letters, texts, scores and other biographical materials. The musical pieces performed by Gustav Leonhardt and various ensembles were shot in direct sound and are presented according to the chronology of their composition, with period instruments and orchestrations in the same rooms where Bach conducted his music. Straub reflected on the political aspect of his film through the figure of Bach himself: ‘I said that there is no divorce in him between art, life, and intellect, sacred and secular music — if the film becomes also what the man was, then of course it will penetrate right into society’s roots.’
With an introduction by Barbara Ulrich, Philosopher and Collaborator of Jean-Marie Straub.
Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach
, Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach, Dirs: Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, West Germany, 1967, 35mm, b&w, 93 min., English version.
Presented as part of The Films of Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet