You don’t go to Hooters for the buffalo wings – no matter what you might tell your girlfriend – and you’re not going to see the film “In Search of Mozart” unless the alternative is something along the lines of death by guillotine.
That said, the acclaimed documentary, which appeared at the San Luis Obispo City-County Library June 27, is exactly what you’re looking for if you’re looking for a film with eccentric musicians praising white-wigged, tight-lipped aristocrats.
Whether this is the case or not, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is arguably the most remarkable child prodigy to walk this rock. He began composing full scores at age 5 and was welcomed to entertain pre-Victorian royalty like a mother welcomes her only son to dinner. He traveled over 25,000 miles and wrote hundreds of symphonies and operas before his death from kidney failure in 1791 at the age of 35.
What is enjoyable here is the film breaks down the composer’s life to the basics, so that even if you have a preconceived idea of classical music, it is not too far fetched for the viewer to experience some bond with Mozart on a personal level.
Award-winning documentary filmmaker Phil Grabsky has created films for cinema and television, and has written four books.
Grabsky wants “In Search of Mozart” to inspire viewers and to portray Mozart in a real way. He claims the composer is really just a lot like you and me.
“What I want to do with the film is stimulate people to follow their own creative paths,” Grabsky said. “How many ‘Mozarts’ are there who didn’t follow through, didn’t practice hard enough, didn’t travel enough or didn’t listen enough?”
“In Search of Mozart” progresses in a chronological fashion, starting with Mozart as a child and concluding with Grabsky’s discovery that Mozart was more a product of his time than inherently destined for fame.
“This film is far more interested in the nuts and bolts of 18th century Europe and how Mozart is a product and benefit of such a world,” Grabsky said. “Would there have been a Mozart if he had been born ten years earlier or later? That’s such an interesting question, and I think the film is surprising in suggesting that the answer is ‘probably not.’”
Mozart’s father, Leopold, a famous violinist who held an important position as the assistant’s conductor of the orchestra of the Archbishop of Salzburg, believed it was his duty to show off his son’s God-given talent to the world, even though Mozart’s sister, Anna Maria, nicknamed “Nannerl,” who was equally gifted, was not given the same treatment.
It’s curious, then, if the times were much more then ten years different, say if women’s rights took hold hundreds of years ago, would Mozart’s name have been lost to history like many talented female artists since his time?
Nannerl toured with her brother for several years as a child. Her musical gifts, however, were overshadowed by the achievements of her younger brother due to their father’s interest in Mozart’s success.
“In Search of Mozart” is certain to both engage music lovers and direct those lacking in knowledge and appreciation of classical music to regard Mozart as a common man with an extraordinary talent. The richness and variety of the music, and the poignancy of Mozart’s prodigious but very short life is sure to move even the most staunch doubters.
For those interested in learning more about Mozart and experiencing modern renditions of his work, the Mozart Festival will be coming to San Luis Obispo July 6-13. For details, go to www.mozartfestival.com.