While writing my review of Koji Yamamura’s Muybridge’s Strings this week, I got to thinking about how many innovative animators have been inspired by the music of J.S. Bach. In the case of Muybridge’s Strings, Bach’s Crab Canon – which is often described as a musical palindrome – complements Yamamura’s exploration of the possibilities of non-linear time.
Just what is it about Bach’s music that inspires? His lyricism? His mathematical precision? (See: Noralv Pedersen’s “Music is also mathematics” and R.D. Fergusson’s “Johan Sebastian Bach: Mystic and Mathematician”).
Here is a selection of animation films / sequences inspired by Bach. Let me know in the comments if you think of any others.
(Koji Yamamura, 2011)
music: Crab Canon
Motion Painting No. 1
(Oskar Fischinger, 1947)
music: Brandenburg Concerto no. 3, BWV 1048
(Norman McLaren and René Jodoin, 1969)
music: Bach played by Glenn Gould
(Mary Ellen Bute, 1950)
Music: J.S. Bach's "Sheep May Safely Graze." A pictorial accompaniment in abstract forms.
Johann Sebastian Bach: Fantasy in G minor
(Jan Švankmajer, 1965)
(Takashi Ishida, 1999)
music: one of the Great Eighteen Choale Preludes, the hauntingly ethereal BWV 659 “Nun, komm’ der Heiden Heiland” (Come now, Saviour of the heathen) performed on an organ
The Art of the Fugue
(Takashi Ishida, 2001)
- this film was commissioned by the Aichi Culture Centre to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Bach’s passing
(Walt Disney, 1940)
music: the film opens with Bach’s Tocatta and Fugue in D minor conducted by Leopold Stokowski. This section of the film was directed by Samuel Armstrong with visual development credited to Oskar Fischinger
The End of Evangelion
(Kazuya Tsurumaki/Hideaki Anno, 1997)
music: the soundtrack to this film was composed by Shiro Sagasu but liberally features selections of J.S. Bach’s music throughout including “Air on the G String” (August Wilhelmj’s adapation of J.S. Bach’s “Air” from the Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D major, BWC 1068), “Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major”, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring”, and “Komm, süsser Tod”.
Tale of Tales
(Yuri Norstein, 1979)
music: the score was composed by Mikhail Meyerovich and includes excerpts from several pieces by Bach (most notably the E flat minor Prelude BWV 853 from The Well-Tempered Clavier). In addition, the film references Mozart (the Andante second movement from Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major, K41), the tango “Weary Sun” by Jerzy Petersburski, and most prominently a traditional Russian lullaby.
Man and Raven
(Olga Brio, 2010)
Music: Jascha Heifetz and J. S. Bach
The Triplets of Belleville
(Sylvain Chomet, 2003)
Music: Bach's Prelude No. 2 from The Well-Tempered Clavier (Book 1) played by Glenn Gould is also featured during the bicycle scene