Quick Film Guide: Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (Jean-Marie Straub and Daniéle Huillet, 1968)

Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach
Directed by Jean-Marie Straub and Daniéle Huillet
West Germany

Some may see it as stimulating; others as dull. Yet, Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach certainly stands out among the other works of the music biography subgenre, particularly when viewed in an era in which this specific subgenre appears to be dominated by over-sentimentality, often coming at the expense of realism and truth. This film chronicles the life of composer Johann Sebastian Bach; it presents excerpts of his works in chronological order, tied together by correspondences and texts written by him and read by his wife.

Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach was directed by the husband-and-wife team of Jean-Marie Straub and Daniéle Huillet, commonly referred to as simply Straub-Huillet. Here, they eschew melodrama and focus, instead, on the music. Inevitably, this is a cold and rigorous choice. Despite this, the film is regarded as one of their most “mainstream” works.

Each of Bach’s pieces are performed in-camera by musicians dressed in period costumes, and often in the locations where many of them were premiered. They are presented in single and often immobile takes. Many of the musicians were prominent classical music artists, including the renowned harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt, in the role of Bach.

Written by Matt Micucci

I'm an international journalist, reporter, website editor and content creator. I actively work for JAZZIZ Magazine and FRED Film Radio, collaborate with other websites and curate my own projects, including IN ARTE MATT and CineCola. I have also curated and produced my series of films in Galway, Ireland, and photo exhibition and arts events in various European countries. I have a working class background and have and have a postgrad degree in Film Theory + a BA in Film & TV.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: