Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach

Germany / 1968 / 94 minutes / NR

Using letters Anna Magdalena Bach wrote to her husband, seminal composer Johann Sebastian, filmmakers Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet created one of the most precise, rewarding biopics ever put to screen. Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach‘s intense emotional pull can be understood by its status as a musical film in the most thorough sense: its performances – staged as extended sequences set within the very spaces once occupied by Bach himself, with trained performers both donning and playing items accurate to the period – are immense, bringing us closer to the sound than was ever thought possible. Immaculately restored on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach invites viewers to experience a bygone age.

  • Director


  • Producer

    Jean-Marie Straub
    Danièle Huillet
    Gian Vittorio Baldi
    Franz Seitz

  • Cast

    Christiane Lang
    Gustav Leonhardt

  • “Straub and Huillet revolutionized the musical biography with their solemn, rigorous Chronicle."

    — Dave Kehr, The New York Times
  • "The net effect is not having seen a film but having lived a real moment, in the presence of monumental music. Is this a documentary, or a biopic, or something else we've never named?"

    — Michael Atkinson, The Village Voice
  • "The experience is both transcendent and material."

    — J. Hoberman, The New York Times
  • "The strangest and most uncompromising of all musician biopics, Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach disregards most conventions of costume drama to ask some very human questions about history, what it takes to be an artist, and what movies can tell us about ourselves."

    — Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The AV Club
  • "With his minimalist's sensitivity to nuance and inflection, Straub eschews pointless cutting and camera movement. The beautiful result has the air of a crystal-clear meditation."

    — Tony Rayns, Time Out New York
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