HELICOPTER STRING QUARTET
Dir: Frank Scheffer. 1996. 81 min. Netherlands. In German and English with English subtitles.
ROCKUARY • ALL MONTH
SUNDAY JANUARY 8th - 9:30PM
SUNDAY JANUARY 22nd - 9:30PM
After turning down a commission to compose a string quartet in 1991, Karlheinz Stockhausen has a dream that causes him to reconsider:
I heard and saw the four string players in four helicopters flying in the air and playing. At the same time I saw people on the ground seated in an audio-visual hall, others were standing outdoors on a large public plaza. In front of them, four towers of television screens and loudspeakers had been set up: at the left, half-left, half-right, right. At each of the four positions one of the four string players could be heard and seen in close-up.
Most of the time, the string players played tremoli which blended so well with the timbres and the rhythms of the rotor blades that the helicopters sounded like musical instruments.
When I woke up, I strongly felt that something had been communicated to me which I never would have thought of on my own.
Frank Scheffer’s cerebral 1996 documentary explores the late 20th century’s most astounding and challenging feat of composition and performance through intimate access to Stockhausen’s process. Part Fitzcarraldo, part Apocalypse Now, and thoroughly avant-garde in both form and content, Helicopter String Quartet is one of the most mindblowing films from the world’s preeminent documentarian of 20th and 21st century experimental composers.
Special Thanks to Frank Scheffer
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