Angela Schanelec’s oblique take on the myth of Oedipus won the Silver Bear for Best Screenplay at this year’s Berlinale.
As sonorous and resonant as its title suggests, Music is the latest achievement from German auteur Angela Schanelec (I Was at Home, But…, TIFF ’19; The Dreamed Path, TIFF ’16). An oblique take on the myth of Oedipus, in Schanelec’s hands the tragic tale’s sensationalism and violence are wrested into a thought-provoking and sensorial reflection on the nature of fate, the ineffable realms of grief, and our human capacity for persistence. Employing a bold filmic language composed of fragments, isolated gestures, symbols, and unsuspected moments of grace and even levity, Music pierces the confines of narrative — both antique and contemporary — in order to probe the limits of conventional representation. Its yield, forceful and mysterious, is not unlike music itself.
Progressing elliptically across years as it moves from the paradisiac Greek Peloponnese to post-modern Berlin, the film begins as the abandoned baby Jon is discovered and adopted by a local family. Later imprisoned as a young adult (played by Aliocha Schneider), Jon falls in love with one of the guards, Iro (Agathe Bonitzer); their relationship upon his release begets two children but also devastating revelations.
The Silver Bear winner for Best Screenplay at this year’s Berlinale, this moving portrait of existence in the face of sorrow forges its own rhythmic, cyclical, and intimate path toward harmony. At once dreamy and formally dexterous, stark, and lush, Music is a film that surprises and challenges without ever suggesting any individual element is situated anywhere but its exact, necessary place.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: mature themes
Luminaries The latest from the world’s most influential art-house filmmakers. A designated subsection of films within Centrepiece, Wavelengths, and TIFF Docs sections.