Apparition of the Eternal Church

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Director: PAUL FESTA

The movie captures the responses of 31 authors, musicians, filmmakers and dancers (from academic Harold Bloom to drag queen Jackie Beat) to Olivier Messiaen’s monumental organ work, Apparition of the Eternal Church.

Listening to the 10-minute piece through headphones, the documentary subjects-most of whom are outsiders to the church and do not know what they’re hearing-put Messiaen’s project to the test: Is it possible to portray, through time-bound, invisible sound, the spiritual, the architectural, the eternal? The result is a collective interpretation improvising its way through an aesthetic landscape defined by violent contradictions. Resolution abuts eternity, eroticism asceticism, spiritual ecstasy physical torture. Together, the music and its interpreters conjure something like what William Blake famously called the marriage of heaven and hell. Apparition circles around the mystery of music and subjectivity and touches down on a head-spinning array of topics, from how to transpose religious values into secular sustenance to S&M mummification. It’s a bravura performance, not to be missed. — Village Voice

USA • 2006 • 54 MINUTES • PAUL FESTA