A film by Jean-Marie Straub, Danièle Huillet
1968, 93 minutes
No. 145

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 like never before.

From Jean-Marie Straub:
“With the Bach film, we have almost entirely a documentary reality — the actual music and actual manuscript pages, real musicians — and only one seventeenth of fiction, and despite it all, the totality becomes very nearly a novel."

Official Selection, New York Film Festival

“Straub and Huillet revolutionized the musical biography with their solemn, rigorous Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach." - 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 result feels like a window into the past — a time and place which seems unfamiliar, but whose art has endured into the present. It achieves something rare: a film that allows the music to stand on its own (it helps that the performances are excellent throughout), while acknowledging that the world that created it now seems remote, fragmented by patchy historical records." - Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The AV Club

"Chronicle uses lengthy takes and a static camera to document the performance of Bach’s music in period costume with period orchestration. The experience is both transcendent and material." - J. Hoberman, The New York Times