So, over Christmas 2020 the COVID-19 entered my household. These posts are those that had to be written up later because being at the computer for more than 15 minutes made me feel beyond tired. I can cook, but I can’t type – it’s very strange. Still, these posts were done well after the fact so apologies in advance.
How do you tell a story about a person? So many biographical films are made about impressive subjects but, unless it is a documentary, you tend to just get a small window of their life with a fair bit of artistic license (or, in the case of Darkest Hour, just lies) and you leave knowing a fraction of the person. Even then, you tend to take away more about the actual story than the person themselves.
With Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (which is more 31 films plus the music played over the credits) I cannot think of a film that has, in a short time, helps us to know so many facets of one person. Some of these are dramatizations of important parts of his life, others are interviews with friends and acquaintances and then there are some segments which are different visual representations of the music Glenn Gould is famous for.
Do all the shorts work as well as each other? Not always. For me, the film did lull a bit when we had some of the more extended interview segments. However, as a collective piece of work, Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould is incredibly interesting and finds a way to tell the story summarizing a man from his first taking up the piano, becoming a renown virtuoso and then his fear of illness and death before his early demise at the age of 50.
Like, this is not a method that would work on every famous person that is worthy of a documentary – but for someone who lived his life through playing music and was eccentric as he was, this was a really innovative way to represent his life. Given this, there is no reason that I could ever expect this film to leave the 1001 list. I mean, where else can you see someone’s life being so represented in so many different fragments?