On Saraband

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“Saraband” is a mournful, heart-wrenching piece of music. It came about during the very short period of time that Bach was free from any religious responsibility in Köthen. In this relaxing, fruitful period he created six suites for unaccompanied cello, but none is as doleful as the chord-less part of the Suite No. 5 in C minor. On the first anniversary of “9/11”, over the remains of the World Trade Center, where hundreds of innocent people had lost their lives, the music selected, unsurprisingly, was this saraband.  Years before that, when Ingmar Bergman wanted to reflect the feeling of utter abandonment in Viskningar och rop (Cries and Whispers, 1972), this piece of music also proved to be his best choice. But as the master filmmaker was about to wrap up his outstanding artistic career, and while he was aware of the new emotional atmosphere around it, why did he once again return to this melancholic masterpiece?

(I invite you to follow my note on Saraband in the latest issue of “Senses of Cinema”. This note has been written for screening “Saraband” at the Melbourne Cinémathèque.)

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