The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach

This event took place May 2 - May 3, 2018

$12 General Admission
$9 Student/Senior
$7 Member

Danièle Huillet & Jean-Marie Straub
West Germany & Italy
1h 34m


Focusing on the life and work of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, from his marriage with his second wife Anna Magdalena to his death in 1850, the uncompromising and meticulous filmmakers Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub used historical documents, letters, administrative documents, manuscripts, obituaries and scores to craft The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach. A listener’s delight, all of the music pieces are performed live and filmed in one single shot, with the musicians playing period instruments, in Baroque tradition. With this beautiful restoration for the 50th anniversary of the film, audiences will enjoy the earnest and alluring depiction of one of the most famous composers of all time.

The starting point for our Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach was the idea of trying to make a film in which music would not be an accompaniment or a commentary but an esthetical material. I didn’t have any real source of inspiration, except maybe what Bresson did in his Diary of a Country Priest (1951) with a literary text. In more concrete terms, we wanted to transfer music onto the screen, to ‘show’ music to the spectators. Parallel to that, we wanted to show a love story that we wouldn’t have seen in the theaters before: a woman talks about her beloved husband whom she shared her life with until his death.” – Jean-Marie Straub, Écrits, Independencia Editions, 2012

Here is one of the rare period pieces that asks us to think about history, rather than imagine it. In a medium as suggestive as film, it’s a radical idea.” – Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, A.V. Club

The connection between the documentary conception of a written work and the visual, sonic, and dramatic fiction of cinema are the essential themes that have nourished the filmmakers’ work to this day.” – Richard Brody, The New Yorker

“… The film is first and foremost a reminder of how essential a role the senses play in the act of experiencing cinema; through the beauty of its music and the limpidity of its images, it invites not ‘alienation’ but complete immersion, so that ‘spectacle’ can be reconstructed through contemplative analysis.” – Fernando F. Croce, Slant Magazine

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Northwest Film Forum
1515 12th Ave,

Seattle, WA 98122

206 329 2629

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