Georg-Albrecht Eckle: Flowing Form
Setting out to make a film about Chopin, one is confronted with two obstacles: Firstly the stereotypical mould into which Chopin, the person and legend, has been forced over the years – an approach to be avoided. And secondly, the music that features in the film – music that has functioned as a breeding ground for listeners’ private emotions throughout the history of its reception, resulting in the development of an erroneous view of its essence.
How does one overcome these obstacles?
Firstly, by avoiding all generalities about Chopin, i.e. by specifying a subject for research that is the key to creating a flowing form of film that goes beyond the usual preconceived structures. Hence the choice of subject: Chopin and bel canto – the phenomenon of opera that lay behind his music: “Chopin at the Opera”.
Secondly, by capturing the transient nature of music, i.e. by not using pre-recorded music but rather letting it evolve during the film itself in an open-ended work process that generates a sense of suspense – and a sense of risk.
Thirdly, by foregoing diverse imagery, concentrating instead on a single meaningful location where everything comes together. Different protagonists, both musicians and scholars, gather in Nohant, the place where Chopin wrote many of his works. In many ways not much has changed since Chopin’s day, which ensures the requisite atmosphere. The film condenses a week spent by a committed group of Chopin enthusiasts who have withdrawn to this location...
These ingredients result in something guided by a rather different aesthetic: no acting, no narration and no neutral documentation. Instead the film re-evokes something past, something that once happened in that place. What remains of it? Does any scent of the past still linger? Does our revival of it help us to understand it better?
Such a flowing form of film also represents a way of thinking that brings together reflection and intuition – as in Chopin’s absolute music.