Koch Lorber Films
MSRP: $29.98
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 115 minutes

Director’s Commentary
Musical Performances
Select Interviews

The Pitch

Philip Glass is no man’s minimalist.

The Humans

Philip Glass, Errol Morris, Martin Scorsese, Ravi Shankar and Chuck Close

The Nutshell

Director Scott Hicks spent most of 2007 following Philip Glass around the world, as he worked on his 8th Symphony. Hicks follows Glass around, as the composer spends most of his days working from dusk until dawn. When this approach doesn’t provide enough cinematic fruit, Hicks turns to the famous friends of Glass. You will hear tales about SoHo wasn’t SoHo until Chuck Close and Glass discovered it. There’s plenty of back-door compliments and snide bitchery to last for another three documentaries.

The Lowdown

Philip Glass believes that creating music comes down to two things. Hard work and active listening. The man was an auto-didactic that believes his real education began in his thirties. Playing off the precision of his Parisian piano teacher, Glass keeps a nearly Utilitarian approach to all of his music. Form and design hammered into formidable concepts against sustained repetition. Dull as dishwater on paper, but sounds beautiful when played aloud.

film really takes the human out of Philip Glass. Around part three, we see Glass become this disembodied archetype that redefines music in film and other venues. I don’t feel such an approach is wise, because then you invite in too many talking heads. Too many talking heads turns the material into something you’d find in a textbook. It doesn’t matter if it’s Ravi Shankar or Errol Morris talking about the greatness of Glass. The viewer is being actively turned off in order to hear more and more soundbytes.

obsessive focus on Glass’s marriage history really put me off. It was quite awkward to see Hicks shove his camera into the collapse of Glass’s fourth marriage. Wife #4 Holly keeps being filmed talking about things she doesn’t want to address. Specifically, the loss of her romantic life to Glass’s musical obsession. It takes the focus off of the artist and puts this dour cloud over the rest of the film. The inclusion of it seems to confuse what Hicks wants the audience to follow.

Philip Glass is one of the world’s most influential composers. But, he seems to have this stubborn label attached to him. I wish that Hicks could stay away from his personal life and remained focused on the creator. Yet, that would be a little fake. You’ve got to take the man and the artist in equal doses.

arrives on DVD with a wonderful transfer. There’s no print damage and
no visible digital noise on the print. The supplemental material lasts longer than the main feature. You get various interviews taken around the production of the documentary and in the time following Hicks’ coverage. Plus, there’s pitch-perfect musical excerpts from Glass’s operatic work and his time with the Kronos Quartet. This is a recommend buy for classical music fans everywhere.

not saying that you have to dress up as a rabbit. It’s just that if
we’re going to call you Usagi, you’ve got to work with us a little.

The Package

supplemental material presented on the disc is amazing. You get a series of interviews and performances from the quiet master. These excerpts were taken from his time at the Gramercy Park Hotel, Tibet House and The Met Opera House. There’s a lot of focus on Einstein on the Beach, but you also get some quality Kronos Quarter face time. The director’s commentary is informative, but listening to Scott Hicks is boring. There’s also an informative booklet included in the DVD case.

8.0 out of 10