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Overall Rating
4.57

Awesome86.67%
Worth A Look: 3.33%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 10%

2 reviews, 18 user ratings


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Rhythm Is It!
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by Stephen Groenewegen

"Ode to joy"
5 stars

Rhythm is it! is an inspiring German documentary about the power of music and movement.

British conductor Sir Simon Rattle is leading the Berliner Philharmoniker in a special performance of Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (“the Rite of Spring”) at Treptow Arena. On stage are 250 Berlin dancers, ranging in age from eight to early 20s. Choreographer Royston Maldoom notes that the kids come from all social classes, multiple countries and ethnic backgrounds and represent every sex (“all three”!). Most are school students who have never danced before.

With minimal intrusion from directors Thomas Grube and Enrique Sánchez Lansch, Rhythm is it! follows the familiar structure of a putting-on-a-show musical. Titles mark the passing of each of six weeks of rehearsal. Maldoom and his team certainly have their work cut out for them. Before these kids can convincingly dance, they have to build confidence in themselves and their bodies, learn focus and discipline and discover the power of stillness. To make the guys comfortable, one of the instructors confides that the choreography must make them look powerful.

By the third week, it seems the kids – unused to such rigorous discipline – have reached their limit. Grube and Lansch periodically cut to interviews with several of the more motivated and engaged students. There’s a 19 year-old man who’s forced to confront his discomfort with physical intimacy. You see the self-esteem of a pimply 14 year-old girl blossom over the course of rehearsals. A Nigerian refugee in his late teens, who has arrived friendless in Germany after the death of his parents, makes his first close connections in an alien country.

Intercut with the kids’ progress is Rattle’s rehearsals with the orchestra and his passionate outpourings about music. Music is for everyone, with the power to join people. He likens himself to a conductor of electricity. After the choreographers describe how dancers use their bodies, you become aware how Rattle conducts an orchestra with far more than his baton. The music flows through his whole body like a surge of power.

Stravinsky’s music is emotional and energising. Rhythm is it! concludes with the kids in performance, and it is a sight worth beholding. The straightforward approach of Grube and Lansch serves their subject and Marcus Winterbauer’s camera records the action in rich, warming colours. “Music is not a luxury but a need, like the air we breathe and the water we drink”, enthuses Rattle at one point. Rhythm is it! is about communication – through music, dance and teaching. When these kids realise what they can and have achieved, the spontaneous joy that lights up their faces is the most beautiful moment I have seen on screen all year.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10101&reviewer=104
originally posted: 06/14/04 18:17:18
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sydney Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Vancouver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Vancouver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival. For more in the 2005 Victoria Independent Film & Video Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Independent Film Festival of Boston. For more in the 2005 Independent Film Festival of Boston series, click here.

User Comments

5/13/07 Cecelia Wonderful film. A must-see for those working with young people. 5 stars
3/23/07 Benny Wielandt Stunning images. And this shows how children really learn, and not just through art 5 stars
11/25/06 Sheldon Morgenstern Absolutely fabulous. 5 stars
10/12/06 Vasant Nadapara Its a cool inspiring stuff... 5 stars
7/31/06 Sheena Dhamsania I saw this when i was in germany on an orchestra trip on a random channel, i love it. 5 stars
12/24/05 John Broggio Absolutely inspiring - a must see film! 5 stars
12/11/05 Bethy Does anyone know the German rap song played at the very begining and end of the film?? 4 stars
4/26/05 km thoma FABULOUS documentary - needs to be distributed in the U.S.!! along with the DVD!! 5 stars
4/16/05 craig varney is it rhythm i don't think so 1 stars
3/10/05 Taylor Fladgate need more....substance! 1 stars
3/03/05 HORAN THE MAN SHIT 1 stars
3/01/05 roget wordman Astoundingly sublime. 5 stars
1/02/05 APC Film is fantastic: Multiculti, teaching through music, and dance. Allowing experience. 5 stars
11/23/04 Gisela Profoundly moving, inspirational 5 stars
10/08/04 Mlok wow! 5 stars
8/31/04 Jacqueline Inspirational and beautiful. 5 stars
8/30/04 Rupert Kay A truly moving film about the power of music and dance to inspire young people... 5 stars
6/23/04 martina heller fantastic film, seeing it made a change in my life 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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