I must start off straightaway by saying that I found this DVD strangely
unsatisfying. Its a peculiar piece of work, admittedly professionally
produced but lacking any real depth. A technique is used throughout
deploying real archive footage mixed with boring, lengthy recreations of
scenes with actors playing the roles of Stravinsky, Robert Craft and Mrs
Stravinsky. This whole hotchpotch is distracting, confusing and rather
pointless. The actors bear little or no resemblance to the real people
involved in the narrative.
The film opens with Stravinsky heading for Hollywood in 1939 at the time
of Walt Disneys Fantasia
, which used sections of The Rite of
to accompany the dinosaur sequence. Copyright laws allowed
Disney to modify Stravinskys music as he wished without any input from the
composer. Stravinsky was, however, drawn into the Hollywood dream and set
out to make an impact in the world of film music. Unfortunately, none of his
efforts were accepted by the film producers and much of the music he had
submitted was later recycled and used in his orchestral scores. There are
attempts in the documentary film to show film footage with Stravinskys
music added to it just to show what it would have sounded like. To be brutal
the music just doesnt suit the footage at all. Maybe Stravinsky wasnt cut
out for film studio work. Despite the failure to make his fame and fortune
in this particular genre he did stay in California for around forty years
with his talents engaged elsewhere.
By far the most illuminating part of the film involves the relationship
between Robert Craft and Stravinsky. Craft was the composers assistant and
he lived with the Stravinskys for twenty years. The relationship is
reminiscent of that shared by Fenby and Delius in many ways but far deeper.
Robert Craft - a very youthful looking ninety year old - adds some insight
and gravitas to the proceedings during his short appearance. Its a shame
that more time wasnt spent in delving deeper into this episode in the
composers life. Craft was also assisting Stravinskys great rival Arnold
Schvnberg at the same time and an extended interview with him would have
been fascinating. What a missed opportunity.
There is not enough content in the film to justify a running time of 53
minutes. Real archive footage is limited. More of Robert Craft and less of
the actors may have tipped the balance for me but as it stands the whole
thing doesnt really deliver. Did I really learn anything new about one of
my favourite composers? Unfortunately the answer is no.
Previous review (Blu-ray):