By: Addison Wylie
There’s nothing inherently wrong with Around the World in 50 Concerts, but there’s not a whole lot to it either.
Heddy Honigmann’s documentary ought to be a hit with anyone who ever partook in band practice. As a former student whom attended extracurricular concerts, I was most interested in the doc when Honigmann showed how the Dutch Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra traveled, which includes the process behind transporting these delicate instruments. I also enjoyed the frank talks with musicians, including the film’s introduction with a truthful percussionist. He takes the audience through a dry run of his patient but important role during a particular piece that calls for a momentous crash of cymbals after waiting through pages of sheet music.
Around the World in 50 Concerts is another documentary that gives the viewer life on the stage, as well as the life that exists as the group settles in to a new destination while drinking in the history of the scenery before their next show. The film, however, does like to slow down and show the orchestra in action. The sound is crisp and the cameras smoothly pan, giving the audience a clear perspective of the performing spaces. We always get the best seat in the house.
Many other documentarians have taken this same behind-the-scenes approach, which means its appreciated if the filmmaker provides their own brand of energy that gives their movie an edge over similar fare. This doesn’t happen with Around the World in 50 Concerts, a film that resembles a faded, bone dry PBS docuseries that’s been edited for time.
Heddy Honigmann’s Around the World in 50 Concerts will find an audience, especially as the Summer is cooling off. But, that audience will have to decide if its worth sitting through miles of flatland to hear pristine classical music, or if they’re better off investing their money towards seeing a live ensemble.
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