Bridging the Gap: Film Review

Stylistic overreaching mars this often visually stunning look at the 500-year-old choir as they embark on a world tour.

Curt Faudon's documentary depicts the Vienna Boys Choir as a sort of international emissary.

Part promotional documentary, part travelogue and part hallucinatory music video, Bridging the Gap is a feature-length celebration of the venerable Vienna Boys Choir, founded more than 500 years ago as a choir to the Austrian Imperial Court. Director Curt Faudon, who previously dealt with the company in his 2008 film Silk Road, clearly is enamored of his subject. Presenting the choir as a sort of international emissary bridging the gap between disparate cultures, he applies an almost mystical approach that is as visually stunning as it is sometimes off-putting.

On one level, the film is a fairly straightforward depiction of the 100-member choir as it tours such disparate locations as New Zealand, Japan, Peru and India. Its members often collaborate with the locals they encounter, from Maori tribesmen to Indian schoolchildren, and their repertoire ranges from classical composers like Schubert, Hayden, Mozart and Bach to such exotica as a song composed by the Apache hero Goyaale, more familiarly known as Geronimo.

Along the way there is footage of an adorable young Japanese boy auditioning for the choir, as well as interview segments with many of the young boys, who hail from no fewer than 33 countries and range in age from 6 to 12. Asked what they want to be when they grow up, their responses range from pilot to electrician to opera singer, with one lad confessing, “I haven’t got a clue.”

The international segments are colorful enough. But the filmmaker ups the stylistic ante with music video-style interludes in which the boys are seen singing amid a variety of surreal backdrops, such as clouds moving in speeded-up fashion. One particularly arresting scene has several of them singing Schubert’s “The Trout” in a boat amid images of flooding and other environmental catastrophes.

It’s certainly an intriguing angle to take with this classical music troupe that hardly brings to mind the avant-garde. And the gorgeousness of the singing can hardly be denied. But both thematically and visually, the film overreaches. Just because the Vienna Boys Choir sings heavenly music doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re heaven-sent.

Production: Faudon Movies, Tradewind Pictures

Director: Curt Faudon

Screenwriters: Curt Faudon, Tina Breckwoldt

Producers: Curt Faudon, Patrick Faudon

Executive producer: Alfred Wall

Director of photography: Stephan Mussil

Editor: Tom Pohanka

Composers: Gerd Schuller, Gerald Wirth, James Ray Sung Hong

No rating, 86 minutes

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