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Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould

Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould

Year: 1993
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 93 min
Director: François Girard
Producer: Niv Fichman
Writer: François Girard, Don McKellar
Cinematographer: Alain Dostie
Editor: Gaétan Huot
Sound: Jane Tattersall, John Smith, Stuart French
Music: Glenn Gould
Cast: Gerry Quigley, David Hughes, Bruno Monsaingeon, Yehudi Menuhin, Peter Millard, Carlo Rota, Katya Ladan, Gale Garnett, Colm Feore
Production Company: Rhombus Media

The pianist Glenn Gould had all the hallmarks of genius – perfectionism, exceptional talent and tenacity. In Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould, François Girard probes the idiosyncratic world of Gould's ideas and music, everything from the musician’s thoughts on technology and northern climates and his fondness for prescription drugs to, above all, his love for the tonalities of structure.

Gould’s celebrity emerged from his reshaping of established musical texts, principally the works of Bach and Beethoven, with an original combination of technical mastery and artistic imagination. Gould challenged the traditions of classical music performance culture and found himself progressively more immersed in other media. He retired while at the height of his success, preferring to investigate the possibilities of recording, in particular.

Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould is not a conventional biography. The film is designed as 32 separate visual and sound fragments that use a variety of techniques (including dramatic re-enactments, documentary and animation) to describe Gould’s life and work. The script by Don McKellar and Girard is an unusual cinematic orchestration that is by no means arbitrary; the structure of Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould and the film’s playfulness and conceptual rigour are their own tribute to Gould.

Colm Feore’s performance is particularly effective, drawing viewers into Gould’s universe. While Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould both illuminates and demystifies the legendary musician, revealing his many eccentricities, it is the imprint of Gould’s sheer brilliance that lingers after the final frame.