Monday, November 29, 2010

The Cuban Missile Crisis and Philip Glass

Watched the powerful documentary, "Fog of War," which deals with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.
All of us who have seen this film know that it centers around the Secretary of Defense under President Kennedy, Robert Strange McNamara, one of the most powerful and controversial political figures of those times.
I hasten to insert at this point that I take no position on the issues that created this documentary - that is not my reason for this blog.
It is the music that was written for the documentary by Glass.
The center of this documentary is the reality that the world was face-to-face with Armageddon for a period of two weeks in the Fall of 1962. The lurid nature of war and its immortal message, 'kill or be killed' was never more pronounced than in this crisis.
The black and white nature of strife and its consequences was made even more brilliant in impact through the music of Glass. Do recall that in his early career, he was known as a "minimalist," and in this film, released early in this first decade of our new century, Glass returns to that form, most assuredly in his simple harmonic progressions and language of the days of his two favorite teachers (as he himself asserts), Bach and Mozart.
The result, for me, is a perfect marriage between the implacable reality of the horror of War, and the parallel simplism in the music that Glass writes to buttress the theme of the documentary.
Do watch AND listen, even if you have already seen the film, and see what you think.

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