Following the Ninth | Chicago Reader

Following the Ninth

Documentary maker Kerry Candaele profiles four political dissidents (in China, Chile, and East Germany) and links their stories through the galvanizing role that Beethoven's Ninth Symphony—specifically its climactic orchestration of Schiller's "Ode to Joy"—played in their struggles. The film is badly overconceived, especially when Candaele divides her subjects' stories into five chapters based on the symphony's respective movements, but the personal reminiscences are stirring and occasionally heartbreaking (one woman recalls her brother being shot down by the East German border patrol as he dashed toward the Berlin Wall, only two months before it fell). Left-wing balladeer Billy Bragg opens the proceedings with some funny stage banter and a rudimentary guitar rendition of the "Ode" that sacrifices much of its harmonic drama.


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