Elgar: The Man Behind the Mask

2010   BBC Four

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WINNER OF CZECH CRYSTAL AWARD FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY AT GOLDEN PRAGUE TV FESTIVAL 2010

WINNER OF BAFTA TELEVISION CRAFT AWARD 2011 FOR SOUND (FACTUAL)

NOMINATION FOR GRIERSON DOCUMENTARY AWARD 2011

The composer of Land of Hope and Glory is often regarded as the quintessential English gentleman.  But Elgar's image of hearty nobility was deliberately contrived.  In this revelatory portrait of a musical genius, John Bridcut explores the secret conflicts in Elgar's nature which produced some of Britain's greatest music. 

This film features specially-filmed performances by the BBC Symphony Orchestra (conductor: Edward Gardner) with James Creswell (bass), Janice Watson (soprano), Michael Laird (shofar) and Crouch End Festival Chorus; Schola Cantorum of Oxford (conductor: James Burton); Mark Wilde (tenor) and David Owen Norris (piano). 

Works by Elgar included in the film are:
The Sanguine Fan, Pomp & Circumstance March 1, The Dream of Gerontius, Enigma Variations, Dream Children, Caractacus, Pomp & Circumstance March 3, Deep in my Soul, Ave Maria, The Apostles, Is she not passing fair?, Improvisation 4, Falstaff, Symphony 1, Enina, Violin Concerto, Symphony 2, The Music Makers, Sospiri, Owls (An Epitaph), Symphony 3, Mina, Love’s Tempest

Contributors include:  Sir Colin Davis, Mark Elder, Michael Kennedy, Anthony Payne, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Jerrold Northrop Moore and Natalia Luis-Bassa.  This film is a co-production between Crux Productions and Prospect Pictures (part of DCD Media)

FILM CREDITS

Photography Vaughan Matthews, Mike Fox
Sound Paul Paragon, Floating Earth
Production Manager Sarah Cox
Line Producer Nikki Weston
Online Editor Katie Kemp
Colourist Michael Sanders
Dubbing Mixer Jez Spencer
Assistant Producer Cat Dixon
BBC Commissioning Editor Adam Barker
Executive Producer Fiona Morris
Film Editor Samuel Santana
Written, narrated and directed by John Bridcut

(1 x 90’)

REVIEWS

'John Bridcut's sensitive, absorbing film reveals startling details and new colours in an old master restored' 

Financial Times

'Bridcut's pundits listen and emote.  We watch them listening.  This is supposed to be death to a documentary, but it works.  After all, we are listening too, and when Bridcut's subjects speak over the recordings, they do so sparely, spontaneously and in response to the music.  These scenes alone make this an extremely moving documentary, a genuine work of art in itself.  But more than this, Bridcut succeeds in having us hear both the known and unknown works as if for the first time, which, with such emblematic scores as Elgar’s, is a considerable achievement.'

Rick Jones, The Tablet

'Bridcut’s own documentary is more than a worthy successor to [Ken] Russell’s: it is a stunning example of the genre, made with self-evident affection for, and insight into, its subject. It is also superbly accomplished from a technical point of view, and altogether revelatory as to Elgar the man and his music.  […]  All in all this is a wonderful documentary. It is beautifully shot and directed, and it deepens our understanding of a composer whose significance Ken Russell re-alerted us to back in the Sixties. At the end of Bridcut’s film he pays a nice hommage to his predecessor, with an image of Elgar, atop a white pony, ascending a Worcestershire hillside.'

Richard Landau, www.classicalsource.com

'Following his magnificent 2004 documentary Britten’s Children, the director John Bridcut has again assembled the great and the good to make this revelatory film about Edward Elgar.'

David Chater, The Times

'John Bridcut's painfully sensitive documentary hones in on the private, introspective Elgar, the dark knight of "ghosts and shadows", always with the music to the fore. And by getting the good and great, young and old of the musical world not just to talk but to react to the works as they hear them, he may have broken new ground.'

David Nice, www.theartsdesk.com

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