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Il était une fois Jean-Sébastien Bach (2003)

Not Rated | | Drama | 13 August 2003 (France)
J.S. BACH: THE MUSIC, THE LIFE, THE LEGEND is a dramatic look at the life of Johann Sebastian Bach, a man who dedicated his life to the service of music.


Cast overview, first billed only:
Christian Vadim ...
Jean-Sébastien Bach
Anna Magdalena Bach
Maria Barbara Bach
Narrator (voice)
Jean-Christophe Bach
Daniel Duault ...
Le duc de Weimar
Gwenaël Foucher ...
Jean-Sébastien Bach enfant
Alain Floret ...
Monsieur Buxtehüde
Jean Léger ...
Le pasteur d'Arnstadt
Raphaëlle Lenoble ...
Alexandra Buxtehüde
Annette Schreiber ...
Margaretha Bach
Patrick Colucci
Patrick Tessari
Alain Courtioux
Michael Berreby


The film opens with a young Johann Sebastian Bach. , who has just been struck by the first of several painful blows of fate , because he is an orphan at age ten so he is seen walking with his older brother since he will live with him . Bach will learn from his older brother because he is also a professional musician . Bach eventually strikes out on his own and takes the first of several professional music positions . Eventually tragedy strikes him a second time but Bach responds by making more music that , as time has tested it well , has several centuries later still not only stood the test of time but become part of the classical musical world's pantheon. , as proven by so many of his pieces being played year after year on multiple continents . Written by Philip K

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Not Rated

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13 August 2003 (France)  »

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Il était une fois... Johann Sebastian Bach  »

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User Reviews

Bad film, but good documentary
27 August 2003 | by (Lyon, France) – See all my reviews

When I went to see this film, I didn't thought I was going to see a masterpiece, I expected to see a documentary on JS. Bach. Well, I must say I got it.

I found the actors rather bad (except for a few exceptions), Jean Rochefort (whom I do like) is not as convincing as expected, the quality of the image is rather poor (well, do bear in mind it's a small French film), there's nothing special in the filming itself, and if you don't love music you'll get bored very quickly because of long "concert" scenes. Things have been done rather quickly and even though the costumes are good, all efforts to make the spectator move to the XVIIIth century have not been made, we can even see some cars in the background of a scene!

The worst point of this film is music/image synchronization. It's really obvious that actors are not playing the music (except in one or two scenes). Well, I'm a pianist myself so maybe as a non musician you won't notice anything. But when Bach conducts the orchestra and his beating with his arms is not synchronized with the music, I guess even non musicians could get annoyed.

You can't compare this film to others on the same theme (musicians' biographies) such as "Amadeus" or "Immortal Beloved" (that's on Beethoven), those are films while this one is a documentary. After all, if you're interested in Bach's life and too lazy to read a book about it, then you could go and see it.

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