Bruckner’s Decision

Facts

Feature Film, 81 min, 1995

Directed by Jan Schmidt-Garre
Actors: Joachim Bauer, Sophie von Kessel, Joachim Kaiser, Michael Ponti, Julia Regehr, Klaus Haderer

The dramatization of a severe professional and personal crisis in the life of Anton Bruckner, who has to make the most important decision he will ever make: whether to stay in his hometown of Linz as a teacher and organist or go to Vienna to work as a composer. This period of soul-searching makes his later symphonies all the more powerful.

Cinematography: Pascal Hoffman
Editor: Edith Eisenstecken, Evi Oberkovler

A co-production with TE DEUM MEDIA APS København, HFF München, ARTE/ZDF, ZDF and Danmarks Radio

Supported by the Bavarian Film Funds FFF, BMI, BLM and Greco


Press

Christoph Zimmermann, Generalanzeiger, Bonn, May 27, 1995
Intellektuell komponierter Filmessay.

Kölner Stadtanzeiger, May 30, 1995
Der Film, in körnigem Schwarzweiß gedreht, vermittelt in seinem ruhigen Erzähltempo, seinen langen Einstellungen zugleich etwas von der gedehnten Zeitstruktur in Bruckners Musik. Seine ungewöhnliche Perspektive zielt am Problem des Schöpferischen vorbei und läßt es zugleich im biographischen Detail unvermittelt aufscheinen. Der Film "Bruckners Entscheidung" wirkt besonders dort authentisch, wo er die Fiktion zu Hilfe nimmt.

Kieler Nachrichten, Mar. 20, 1996
Sensibles Porträt, das Bruckners komplizierte Persönlichkeit auch durch Einblicke in die Kindheit und Jugendzeit erschließt.

Harald Eggebrecht, Süddeutsche Zeitung, June 26, 1995
Bilder, die bleiben: Ein stiller See von dunklem Tann umgeben, Regen fällt und tränkt die Luft, ein einsamer Mann mit breitkrempigem Hut und schwarzem Gehrock eilt am Ufer entlang, als wisse er wohin. Der im Irrgarten von Liebe und Angst taumelnde Anton Bruckner ist auf der Flucht vor den Furien erotischer Vergeblichkeit und vor der Unausweichlichkeit des eigenen Genius. Zu erfahren in Jan Schmidt-Garres langsamer Erkundung von Bruckners Entscheidung, ein Genie zu werden.

Josef Lederle, Film-Dienst 26/1995
Das Interesse Schmidt-Garres gilt der Lebenskrise und dem Wendepunkt des Komponisten, dessen Ringen um eine berufliche Entscheidung zur Folie für einen philosophischen Essay über die Notwendigkeit einer Bestimmung wird. Angelehnt an Kierkegaards Entweder-Oder-Kategorie thematisiert der Film menschliche Freiheit und die Notwendigkeit von Entscheidungen, ohne sich auf psychologische Erklärungen einzulassen. Bild und Ton sind in diesem fast meditativen Schwarzweißfilm weitgehend voneinander entkoppelt, spielen wie die Musik von Bruckner oder Wagner eine eigenständige Rolle. Wer sich in das Innere der Figuren vortasten will, muß seinem Gehörsinn trauen und Sätze wie den von Sophie zu Ende denken: "Was ist das für eine Freiheit, in der alles möglich ist, um den Preis, daß nichts wirklich ist?"

Torbjörn Bergflödt, Badener Tagblatt, Mar. 22, 1996
Handwerklich herausstechend: die lebendige Kameraarbeit.

aus: Harald Eggebrecht, "Annäherungen an einen Unnahbaren. Zu den Bruckner-Filmen von Ken Russell und Jan Schmidt-Garre", Jahrbuch der Münchner Philharmoniker 1994-96
Wie in Ken Russells "Seltsamen Heimsuchungen des Anton Bruckner" steht auch in "Bruckners Entscheidung" der Kur-Aufenthalt in Bad Kreuzen im Mittelpunkt. Regisseur Jan Schmidt-Garre, der 1992 mit einem ungemein einfühlsamen, preisgekrönten Dokumentarfilm über Sergiu Celibidache von sich reden gemacht hat, beobachtet in geradezu aufreizender Langsamkeit und Ruhe seinen Bruckner. Der Schauspieler Joachim Bauer verblüfft durch unheimliche Ähnlichkeit mit einer Photographie Bruckners aus dem Jahre 1854, die ihn als elegant gekleideten Herrn zeigt mit kurzgeschnittenem schwarzem Haar und feschem Schnauzbart. Auch Photographien von 1868 zeigen einen noch immer kräftigen Mann in den besten Jahren, keineswegs das sonst so vertraute Greisenantlitz.
Im ganzen Film spricht niemand direkt, abgesehen von ein paar Anweisungen des Pflegepersonals und Jauchzern beim Baden im See. Dafür breitet Schmidt-Garre im Off einen fiktiven Briefwechsel aus zwischen einem unsichtbaren Kurgast, der an Bruckner wach-senden Antel nimmt, und seiner jungen Braut, die den Aufenthalt ihres Verlobten in Bad Kreuzen als Flucht sieht. Neben diesem Hauptdialog läßt Schmidt-Garre einige Passagen Bruckners zitieren, darunter den in seiner kaum beherrschten Dringlichkeit bewegenden Liebesbrief an Josephine Lang. Im gelassenen, dabei spannungsvollen Fluß der Schwarzweißbilder, im Rhythmus des Kuralltags, geprägt von den sich wiederholenden Ritualen der Heilgüsse und -bäder, tauchen Fragmente aus Bruckners Musik auf. Nicht als Untermalung verstanden, sondern als Ideen-Bruchstücke des sich allmählich seelisch stabilisierenden Komponisten. Bad Kreuzen und die Kaltwassermethoden des Dr. Prießnitz sind letzter Fluchtort, Inkubation vor der endgültigen Klarheit, Symphoniker zu werden. Erst nach diesem Aufenthalt wird Bruckner seine bedeutendsten Werke schreiben.
Während Russells Bruckner als extrovertierter Sonderling erscheint, reift Bruckner bei Schmidt-Garre dem endgültigen Entschluß, sein außerordentliches Talent anzunehmen und daraus die Konsequenzen zu ziehen, stumm und nach innen gekehrt entgegen. Bleiben bei Ken Russell die Anstalt und ihre Umgebung, die Behandlungen folienhafter Hintergrund, rücken sie bei Schmidt-Garre als mitgestaltende Kräfte in den Vordergrund. Es ist, als ob der Zuschauer selbst mitbehandelt werde, langsam gleitet auch er in die Macht dieser variationsreichen Wasserkünste, die Bruckners Fixierungen lockern, seine Gedanken und Gefühle verflüssigen. Behutsam und wachsam erkundet Schmidt-Garre den geheimnisvolen, letztlich unaufdeckbaren Pfad zum Genie, ohne Bruckner zu nahe zu kommen. Wo Ken Russell in karikierender Überzeichnung etwas von Bruckners vielschichtiger Fremdheit erhellt und ihn als kurioses, doch bewunderungswürdiges Original skizziert, verläßt sich Schmidt-Garre ganz auf den Sog unaufhaltsamer Veränderung: Bruckner nicht als festgefügte, fertige Persönlichkeit, sondern als dynamischer groß-dimensionierter Prozeß ganz eigenen Tempos.
Der Höhepunkt gleicht schließlich einer Implosion, verdeutlicht in einer suggestiven Sequenz: Bruckner sitzt auf dem Steg am See und lauscht seinem Innern, in dem Wagners "Tristan" tönt. Bis in diese meditative Stimmung jemand laut ins Wasser springt, und noch einer. Bruckner sieht das sehnsüchtig verehrte Mädchen heiter mit seinem Geliebten im See spielen, er schlägt die Hände vors Gesicht. Die "Tristan"-Musik hat ihn und uns keinen Moment verlassen, sie strebt unausweichlich ihrer Klimax und Bruckners seelischem Absturz entgegen. Keine Bilddramatik, nur die Hände vorm Gesicht. In der Totalen von See und dunklem Tann ringsum eilt Bruckner dann durch den einsetzenden Regen am Schilfufer entlang, ein einsamer Mann mit breitkrempigem Hut und schwarzem Gehrock, als wisse er wohin. Anton Bruckner, gefeierter Orgelimprovisator und am Beginn einer Komponistenkarriere, ist auf der Flucht vor den Furien erotischer Vergeblichkeit und vor der Unausweichlichkeit des eigenen Genies. Aber er wird sich entscheiden. Daß es so ist, wissen wir durch die Musik.

Additional

Poster "Bruckner’s Decision"

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Texts

Anton Bruckner: Letter to Miss Josefine

Kreuzen, June 9, 1867

Dear, kind Miss,

Please do not think, dear Miss Josefine, that I would turn to you in any matter that was none of your concern, but no, I am taking up the pen in the
conviction that you are aware of my silent but continual insistence upon you and in order to importune. My greatest and most sincere request, which I now dare to direct to you, Miss Josefine, is that Miss Josefine would most kindly, frankly, and honestly inform me in writing of her last and final answer for my future peace of mind to the following question: May I place my hopes in you, and request your hand from your dear parents? Or is this not possible, for lack of personal inclination, to take the step into marriage with me? Please, dear Miss Josefine, discuss this with your dear parents but not with anyone else (please maintain the strictest secrecy). My request, once again: Miss Josefine,
please write quite frankly and honestly, and quite decisively, either: I am permitted to court you, or a complete refusal for ever (no half-and-half thing, putting the matter off or circumscribing it, as the final hour is at hand for me). With a kiss of the hand, and yearning for as early and decisive an answer, Anton Bruckner.

Documents and Artefacts

Presented at the IMZ and EBU workshop "On Making Documentaries about Music and Musicians", Vienna, 26. 4. 02

by Jan Schmidt-Garre

We have been talking a great deal about music today and about the right way of staging music or musicians in a documentary. The word indicates that we are concerned here with documents, and I would like to develop a few thoughts on this subject: on the relationship between reality, depiction, and fiction, between the document and the artefact.


1. Document

The presence of the camera changes the object. Light, framing, camera movements, and later the selection and context rob the document of its innocence and convert it into an artefact that is determined by the medium and the author at least as much as by actual reality. "The medium is the message", as Marshall MacLuhan said. Is the pure, innocent document a fiction?

Example 1: Callas/Habanera

Sometimes, however, the message is the message. This single shot contains everything: musical theatre, the art of singing, identification, distance, irony, devotion. The power of this document protects it from being devoured by the voracious medium. Direct cinema. Cinéma vérité. This ideal may be naïve in terms of epistemology, but it is attainable in rare and fortunate cases, and it was with it that I approached my first major subject as a film-maker, the conductor Sergiu Celibidache. I accompanied him for three years to rehearsals, on concert tours, and to watch him teaching. How could the pictures we took of Celibidache achieve the directness and authenticity of the pure document? "It was an animal film", the cameraman said when filming was finished, and indeed we had lain in wait for a tiger in the jungle. Celibidache did not seem to notice we were there, and his vital self-confidence prevented him from changing by one iota from his normal self when the cameras were running. And the musicians who were playing under his baton were so much enthralled and challenged by his authority, that questions of shame or vanity simply never arose.

Example 2: Celibidache/Forza del destino

However, it is possible for a crack to appear in the self-contained system of Cinéma vérité if reality fails to stick to the agreement, which is: we observe you and you don't notice us. If the document suddenly looks at me, it catches me red-handed as a voyeur. It turns my own weapons against me and forces me into an uncomfortable intimacy, an intimacy that I had not asked for. Suddenly a window opens onto the actual reality behind that which is being depicted.

Example 3: Celibidache/Forza del destino/Glance into the camera

2. Artefact

My film "Bruckner’s Decision" also started as a documentary. A brief episode in Bruckner’s life had caught my interest, a time of crisis and transition. He had been sent to a water spa in 1867 on account of psychological problems. He spends the summer there and finally, at the age of 43, takes the existential decision to become a composer. Everything that follows flows from the decisiveness he has at last gained: his move to Vienna, his position as a professor of composition, and most particularly his powerful Masses and symphonies. I could not draw on any documentary film material from 1867 so I decided to use what is now called "dramatic reconstruction", and created my own artefacts. In the sound I combine these artefacts with authentic documents from Bruckner – letters –, and I complement and reflect them with letters from a fictitious person whom he meets at the spa – another artefact.

Example 4: Bruckner’s Decision/Bad Kreuzen

The film met with approval and objections, but there was one accusation that was never made, and for me this is the greatest compliment of all: my film was never accused of falling to pieces, of trying to combine too many disparate elements. In addition to the artefacts from Bruckner’s spa treatment there is also documentary material in it of a present-day Bavarian Corpus Christi procession, modern church-goers leaving after the service, Bruckner as a child in St. Florian, clouds, photographs from Mexico in the 1930s, and a painting by Manet. Bringing these heterogeneous elements together into one consistent whole was in my view the challenge of the editing-room, and it was here, as with all my films, that the creative work actually took place. The experience I have had of artists like Bruckner and Celibidache, and his teacher Furtwängler (about whom I am currently making a film essay), is constantly challenging me to look for a self-contained form in art, an art that does not naively avoid, let alone deny, the ugly, the disturbing, the destructive, but attempts to integrate it into a coherent whole. I defend this principle against the over-powerful tendency of our day to present a torso, a fragment, an open form. Every cut that I make in the editing-room is an attempt to re-create the innocence – reconstruction in the age of deconstruction. In the editing-room we played around with our artefacts and tried out different combinations, and suddenly, again, a window opened. Two shots that we had filmed independently of one another revealed themselves as a straight shot and its reverse angle. We see what Bruckner is seeing. We see with his eyes, we are suddenly inside his head. This creates identification and empathy. And that is how "Bruckner's Decision" turned into a feature film.

Example 5: Bruckner’s decision/glances

3. Artefacts from documents

"Belcanto" is a series about historic tenors, and came about not only because of my enthusiasm for these magnificent musicians but also because there are exciting documents available on the great singers from the early days of sound films that hardly anyone knows anymore these days. These documents are not immediately accessible; there is a layer of cultural dust on them that we first had to remove. This starts with the technical parameters; finding the original negatives from which we can make a tele-cine transfer and define the best possible framing, avoiding the cut-off heads, and finding the right running speeds – which can be anywhere between 18 and 24 frames per second – as this can after all affect not just the pitch but also the colour of the voice. However, more than this was at stake: we had to bring historical material to life. The old film documents had to be integrated as perfectly smoothly as if we had staged them today specially for our portraits. The material we were filming now, on the other hand – the atmospheric scenes and interviews with experts and eye witnesses, and so on – had to be brought close to the historical documents. So we filmed in black-and-white. We tried to bring all the components together into a flow of film. Historic locations such as the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires or the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth were not filmed as dead pieces of architecture but as the backdrop to real live scenes. Photographs are not cut in as lifeless stills, but they appear in the hands of the people we are talking to, again, as parts of a scene being shot today. Symptoms of the past that you can analyse and categorise with polite interest turn into symbols that lead to an understanding and experience here and now, to real empathy. Staged situations for bringing historical material to life: artefacts from documents.

Example 6: Caruso/Little Italy

In "Belcanto" we worked to a strict pattern. We were involved in a 13-part series, so we had to take care of recognisability, of a clear graphic profile, and so on. At the same time, however, we tried not to lose sight of the need for just a little irritation, for those windows in the television screen or on the cinema screen through which actual reality flashes at occasional moments. We tried once again to create structures that were so stable that they could even still carry the moments of disparity without assimilating them in a "kitschy" way. There was such a moment in Ireland, in a meeting with the John McCormack Society. Elderly McCormack fans meet every Thursday for no other purpose than to listen to records together.

Example 7: McCormack/Society

The devoted glance of this lady, in my view, brings John McCormack, who died 57 years ago, back to life: his patriotism as an Irishman and his faith; but at the same time it shows what he still means to Irish people today – and how long ago it all is. But in return for that this shot has to be maintained for such an embarrassingly long time.

4. Documents from artefacts

Celibidache's glance into the camera had opened a window into the reality behind the documents of Cinéma vérité. This is, because a totally different picture is seen from the Divine point of view from the one we were filming: musicians with instruments and the conductor in front of them, yes, but also: spotlights, cables stuck together with tape, microphones, rails, cameras, technicians with headphones. Revealing this situation as it actually exists is the principle behind my film "Opera Fanatic".

Example 8: Monty Python/a film within a film

The idea behind "Opera Fanatic" came from outside: Stefan Zucker, a brillant New York opera expert and singer claiming to be listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s highest tenor, was planning to go to Italy and interview the great female singers of the 1950s and 1960s. He asked me if I would like to join in. In order to get a clear picture of a project I like to place myself in the role of a doctor and break the development process down into the three phases of anamnesis, diagnosis, and therapy. The anamnesis starts with the initial idea: a subject, material, or as in this case a suggestion from outside. I start researching and building up a personal relationship with the material. Here, that consisted of listening to records of the singers, studying their biographies, their repertoires, and so on. This leads to the diagnosis. I try to recognise the material as such, to take hold of it. What kind of a project is this? Actually, in this case the interviews with the old ladies were actually only secondary; the real subject of the film was Stefan’s journey through Italy, his search for the great pathos of a long-vanished opera, his search for childhood memories, and perhaps even the search for his own mother, herself an opera singer of those days, who used to take him with her when she made guest appearances in Italy. Once the material has been diagnosed the therapy can start: how can this be realised in an adequate way? I decided to locate the film on two levels: Stefan’s travels through Italy in an old van, with all his expectations and comments, filmed with a hand-held camera on Super 16 mm, and in parallel with that the interviews with conventional lighting, the camera on a stand, shot on video. A film within a film, documents from artefacts.

Example 9: Opera Fanatic/Gencer

The only "true" side of the interview situation in Cinéma vérité terms is the interview situation itself, with all the cables, artificiality, and nervousness. How will Giulietta Simionato, whose apartment we have turned upside-down, react to Stefan Zucker, who is all a bit of a mystery to her and now asks her, in his castrato voice and affected Italian: "Let us assume we are in the 1930s and you are at the beginning of your career. What would you do different?" We see her sitting all amongst the cables and lamps, we see Stefan Zucker, the sound engineer, the video-cameraman, and we see the video-camera waiting for the answer. She needs a few seconds, and then: "I wouldn't do it again."

Example 10: Opera Fanatic/Simionato

This sentence, in this situation and after this pause for thought, comes fairly close to the ideal of the directness and authenticity of Cinéma vérité. But even here, again, it is not Giulietta Simionato as such who is speaking. There is no key-hole through which we can see her. But there is the actual Giulietta Simionato, here and now, in this situation, with this face that she is showing to us. And in order to understand this face I open the context out as wide as it will go and thus try to reach the limits of the observation situation. I unmask the documentary situation of the interview by documentary means as artificial: documents from artefacts. However, even in "Opera Fanatic", which so to speak institutionalises the open window and turns it into a principle, there is a moment when reality breaks in and bursts out of the framework of the film.

Example 11: Opera Fanatic/Pobbe

Is Marcella Pobbe being compromised here? Is Stefan Zucker being compromised? The question is connected to my subject because a document that is created without the knowledge of its protagonists has, in the nature of things, a greater potential for authenticity – if only of a somewhat negative kind. Every viewer will answer for himself the question as to whether "Opera Fanatic" exposes its heroes. I can only try to explain my attitude to those scurrilous, weird phenomena that keep turning up in my films. My attitude is determined by empathy and identification, and at the same time a sense of distance. This may sound like a paradox, and perhaps even perverse, but as I hope the films show it is possible. I like Stefan Zucker but at the same time I recognise very clearly what an impudence this man is. I identify myself with his obsessions, but that does not mean that they become mine. I never laugh at anyone but I welcome and provoke laughter. I think this attitude is camp. Camp is not ironic and not cynical; it is a broken and desperate yearning for authenticity that sometimes can only be achieved in this kind of strange indirect way.

5. The document recovered

Example 12: Monty Python/a film within a film within a film

Just as the tortoise kept ahead of the hare, reality always seems to be a step ahead of us. Not even exposing the observation situation releases us from this dilemma. There is always an irreducible rest left over, a "strange loop". A thousand veils, and no reality behind them as Lyotard says? There is one escape route, and this is art: somehow the absolute artefact. To put it in the words of the Romantics, "All one can actually do is write poetry – everything else is inexact." And the absolute document?

Let’s go back into the editing-room, whith the cans that came out of three years’ filming Celibidache. Here the trilogy of anamnesis – diagnosis – therapy is repeated. The first step is to gain the full acquaintance of the material, to assume ownership over it, to master it – this is the most laborious and unproductive part of film-making. I keep trying to shorten it, or delegate it to someone else, but it doesn’t work; the author himself, like a good doctor, has to go through this whole process. In the diagnosis the material is then recognised and evaluated: where in this unstructured continuum does a take start and end? What kind of a character does it have? Does it belong to the exposition? Or to the resolution? What is the inner dynamic of my material? The only virtues that help here are honesty – the material must be recognised and accepted for that which it is – and humility: I must not demand too much of the material, or force anything onto it of which it is not capable. I can and must work with that which is given, and not with unrealised intensions or prefabricated theories, I must not overrule or misuse my material. "Going on from the given" is Celibidache's definition of the legato, and for Furtwängler the highest aim for any musician is real legato playing. Interpretation, regardless of whether it is of musical or film documentary material, would then mean: recognising and realising the forces resident in the material. Just as good therapy can only be the kind that helps the body to heal itself. Each detail thus finds its position out of itself, and the film in its entirety takes on the force and necessity of an organically grown structure. Our document, having lost its virginity during the course of this long story of voyeurism, manipulation, and corruption, can regain a second innocence. The film then no longer needs any window onto actual reality because it has become a window itself, the icon through which reality reveals itself. Just as in Zen: "When we reach the ground and the origin, the mountain is once again a mountain and the river once again a river, the meadow is green and the flower is red."

It’s the Structure which is the Venture – Interview on "Bruckner’s Decision"

Jan Schmidt-Garre in conversation with Rebecca Fajnschnitt, March 1995

In "Bruckner’s Decision" you attempt to construct a complete portrait of Bruckner from a very small episode in his life.

I have been fascinated by the theme of the existential decision for quite some time, particularly as a central point in the creative process, when it is a matter of using this and no other word in a line, this and no other color – and naturally in the life cycle when a person is challenged to make a decision beyond a given framework of this or that choice, to make a decision about his life as a whole. I was struck by Bruckner’s biography, struck that a decision with such an existential significance might have given his life its direction and that it perhaps was even at the basis of the power and decisiveness of his late masterpieces. I thought that this might be the right angle for a film about Bruckner.

It is about the crisis at the end of his stay in Linz, 1867/68…

Around these years, Bruckner’s life took an entirely new direction. All of a sudden, he had the courage to move to the metropolis of Vienna, where he became a full-time composer. He started to write symphonies, a genre with which he was almost entirely unfamiliar, and suddenly, from age 43 onwards, he produced one monumental symphony after the other. To me this decisive step must have been the consequence of an existential decision, with which one is confronted so rarely in life. He had arrived at a point where the alternatives of everyday life were collapsing. "Should I work, go out, write a motet or an organ piece, or meet Maria or Anna?" No: Shall I from now on take my life into my own hands, and decide who I am and will be, yes or no? It is not a question of deciding irrelevant matters, but of saying Yes or No to the only offer which I was made, of "Accepting myself", as Guardini puts it, thus ultimately it is a question of life or death.

Does the film live up to your original intentions and expectations?

Whenever I present the film I am both surprised and pleased to see that the viewers accept its form without questioning it. The film is made up of completely heterogenous material: bathing scenes in the spa of Bad Kreuzen, photos of Mexico, slow motion shots of St. Florian, an alpine Corpus Christi procession, a portrait of Manet. And on top of that, a complicated epistolary novel off-screen, between Bruckner and two fictitious contemporaries. This sounds pretty complicated, but, regardless whether people view the film with disfavour or favour, they never question its structure. And in fact it is the structure which is the real venture!

The structure of the film binds the elements in an organic manner, so that the heterogeneous nature of the material is hardly noticeable.

I am a completely traditional 18th century aesthetician with regard to demanding an inner unity from a work of art. In this sense, the divers elements are thus just more a formal challenge, for they are more difficult to force together. The foreign components should not impress the viewer as an intellectual concept, but they must lead to a direct and immediate experience. You are constantly torn between constructive intentions and the intrinsic dynamic processes of the material and must recognize that you have to work with the given material, with this actor, with this decoration – not with something fictitious or non-existent. And then again when editing: the film is going to be made from the material that you have. Every attempt to graft on an idea that was not realized from the script leads to intellectual kitsch. That can succeed, look at the Canadian film about Glenn Gould.

This structure probably could have taken its final form only during the editing process.

It was very difficult to put the material in its ultimate shape. Usually the material causes problems in the beginning, and then again shortly before the end; the bulk of the work involved is done more or less automatically. With this film, however, each cut was a struggle: two frames forward, two frames back, then revise the structure, and check the balance again. In this way it took us another five months after the rough version before I could watch the film without getting stuck.

Why did you decide to film this material, which is colored so strongly by the Austrian landscape and Baroque architecture, in black and white?

I wanted to recreate the climate of the world from which Bruckner drew the power for his work. I wanted to take the inner perspective rather than view the 19th-century composer’s biography from a historian’s distant point of view. I was inspired by the small booklets which you can buy in Austrian Baroque Churches and which illustrate the history of the church’s architecture with insufficient black-and-white illustrations. To me these booklets, in a direct and sensual manner, convey the atmosphere of the religiousness which was typical of Bruckner’s time and lasted perhaps until the beginning of the 20th century. If, in this respect, the film has turned out old-fashioned, I am perfectly satisfied.

Heinrich Rombach: Decision

A decision cannot be based on a process of selection but takes place in direct relation to the whole being. A decision effects the being, what it is itself. When the choice of a career is considered a decision, for example, then it is not about whether it is the most "convenient", "promising" or "lucrative" profession among all the "possibilities", but about the profile of being itself. Whoever in this manner is a fisherman (doctor, pilot, blacksmith), is it in reality. He or she thus freely accepts certain limitations with clearly restrictive and at times oppressive effects, but thereby also gives birth to a decisiveness which has a certain force of assertion and conviction as a result.

Whenever a decision arises from a choice, then the stage of action is transformed and another structural model comes into force. If this transformation does not take place, then the choice is reduced to indecision; the decision completely loses the principle of selection without gaining a new, meaningful criterion. To be and act as a whole means to directly experience the whole of one’s profile in a single possibility. The possibility thus loses its limitations and its demarcation to other possibilities.

"Different possibilities" no longer exist. Decision involves one single possibility, and that is the whole possibility of existence itself.

Every decisive action also determines its past history, it establishes new meaning and purpose and organizes them in such a manner that it flows out of necessity. Every decisive action shapes its past history, it acts with the same energy toward the past as toward the future; life thus springs from a single point. In this sense, nothing is ever past.

Expressed in the most general terms it can be said that the right decision is that which is a decision. And in fact, upon closer inspection, the situation of decision no longer appears as the presentation of comparable "possibilities", but as the offer to accept a single possibility, everything else is escape or deceit.

(Rombach’s notion of decision influenced the film "Bruckner’s Decision")