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Film Scratches: Prelude (2014)

PreludeTop

Film Scratches focuses on the world of experimental and avant-garde film, especially as practiced by individual artists. It features a mixture of reviews, interviews, and essays.

A Review by David Finkelstein.

Prelude is a 7 minute film by Simon Welch about a young girl (Mel Z) practicing a Bach prelude on the piano. She practices using a metronome at a slowish tempo. It is often unpleasant to listen to people practicing classical music when they haven’t mastered it yet, and the effect of the metronome is deadly; it turns the music into a dirge-like drone, devoid of feeling. (As a music teacher, the scene confirms my belief that metronomes almost never help students.)

PreludeSideThe shots of her playing are juxtaposed with other scenes from her life: doing homework, performing household chores. We see her tending a grave in a small local cemetery, and the film ends with her mother calling her in a sharp tone. She has little spontaneity or joy in her life, which seems comprised of a dutiful round of tasks performed alone. Is the grave she visits a beloved parent, and perhaps the mother we see is a wicked stepmother? Prelude does not tell us the story, but rather gives us a setting which might serve as a prelude to the story. Welch effectively selects a few telling narrative elements and, like Bach, he structures them into a set of variations on a theme that have an emotional aura of their own.

David Finkelstein is a filmmaker, musician, and critic. For more information on Film Scratches, or to submit an experimental film for review, contact david (at) lakeivan.org.

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