Barking Boxshot

Spain, 2007/2008
Length / The Silence Before Bach:
102 minutes
Length / Mudanza: 21 minutes
Length / Special features: 26 minutes
5.1 DTS-HD master audio / 2.0 Stereo LPCM (48k/24-bit)
Original aspect ratios: 1:85:1 / 2.00:1
Language: German, Spanish, Italian
Subtitles: English

Blu-Ray: BD50 / 1080p
Region ABC (Region Free)
Blu-Ray RRP: £19.99

Release Date: 24 May 2021
Second Run BD039


In these two works by the radical Catalan filmmaker Pere Portabella, music, art and architecture provide the starting point for a beguiling, and often playful, exploration of European history, fragmenting and unravelling its substance to comment on our modern world.

The acclaimed The Silence Before Bach unfolds through a series of filmed vignettes, as a meditation on the harmonies and rhythms of Johann Sebastian Bach's sublime music. Portabella's opulent reverie leads us through the centuries, investigating the profound, complex relationship between image, music and sound.

Mudanza quietly records the removal of art, furniture and household goods from the home of poet Federico García Lorca - missing since 1936, assassinated at the hands of Franco’s Nationalist forces - inviting the viewer to move through the empty spaces that remain, and to contemplate what is lost.

Our world premiere Blu-ray edition presents both films in new director-approved HD transfers, plus an archival in-depth interview with Pere Portabella from the acclaimed Spanish tv arts show 'Sala 33' in which he discusses both films, plus a 20-page booklet with writing on the films by Pere Portabella and Marcelo Expósito.

more about the film

Blonde Stills

Special Features

• Presented from a new High-Definition transfers, approved by director Pere Portabella.

• An in-depth 2010 interview with Pere Portabella from the Spanish tv arts show ‘Sala 33’ discussing both The Silence Before Bach and Mudanza.

• Booklet featuring writing on the films by Pere Portabella and Marcelo Expósito..

• The Silence Before Bach presented in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 Stereo; Mudanza presented in 2.0 Stereo.

• Region free Blu-ray (A/B/C)

Related Titles

The Silence Before Bach

Directed by Pere Portabella
Screenplay - Pere Portabella, Carles Santos, Xavier Albertí
Cinematographer - Tomàs Pladevall
Editor - Òskar Gómez
Sound - Albert Manera, Ricard Casals
Art direction - Quim Roy
Costume design - Montse Figueras

Main Cast
Alex Brendemühl – Camioner
Feodor Atkine – Piano seller
Christian Brembeck – Bach
Daniel Ligorio – Mendelssohn
Georgina Cardona – Cellist


Directed and written by Pere Portabella
Cinematographer - Elisabeth Prandi
Sound - Albert Manera
Re-Recording Mixing - Ricard Casals
Editor - Dani Sánchez

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2007 Barcelona Film Awards/ Winner: Audiovisual prize
2007 Gijón International Film Festival / Winner: Special Jury Award

“If Portabella is a punk filmaker, he is the most elegant of them all. He is the one who demonstrates, destructures and destroys firms, mechanisms and discourses while he frames with the mathematic virtuosity of Antonioni or Resnais, photographs with the violence of Glauber Rocha, edits with the revolutionary intelligence of Eisenstein and moves the camera with the sophisticated arrogance of Fellini. He is the one who can straighten his tie while he breaks cinema and the world into pieces.” Ezequiel Schmoller

“Artist, activist, politician and above all a brilliantly intuitive experimental filmmaker, Pere Portabella is an iconic figure in Spanish cinema.” Mar Diestro-Dópido, Sight & Sound

“A work shaped by correlation, metaphor and metonymy, by beautiful images and fragments of ideas, a work that locates the music in the twitching of a dog’s ears, in the curve of a woman’s belly, a child’s song and an adult’s reverie. Like the music it celebrates, this is a film made in glory of the world.”
Manohla Dargis, New York Times

“At once cerebral film essay and unsweetened ear candy, Pere Portabella’s The Silence Before Bach is nearly as tough to categorize as its maker... it’s a high-toned experimental feature that eschews narrative and ponders the social history of music, creating a dialectic between sound and image, as well as between a costumed 18th-century and a contemporary post-national Europe.” Jim Hoberman, Village Voice

“An example of cinema redefining the experience of music for a contemporary audience, it recalls Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet's The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (1968) in its structural use of music.” MoMA

“A remarkable and quixotic work: a free-floating series of visual essays on what music in general and Johann Sebastian Bach in particular mean to civilization. The links to Buñuel are there for the taking; as opulently measured as this movie is, it also has a playful, even subversive side. The Silence Before Bach finds beauty everywhere: in the curves of a naked woman, the gait of a dancing horse, and the godlike order of a prelude.” Ty Burr, The Boston Globe

“The Silence Before Bach is a mélange of genres including narrative vignettes and documentary sequences on the theme of the transformational power of great music. At one moment his camera records a subway car packed with passionate cello-playing musicians; at another he is following a guide who gives tours of Leipzig dressed in full Bach regalia; and in a third he stages Felix Mendelssohn’s discovery of sheet music for the St. Matthew Passion used by a butcher to wrap meat. By turns funny and serious, poignant, sexy and refreshing, The Silence Before Bach is very nearly unclassifiable, like so much of Portabella’s oeuvre.” Film Forum

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