Brutal Ardour. Sound art and experimental cinema

Before Manuel Huerga became a renowned director of stage, film and television, in 1978, with only 19 years, he made the film “Brutal Ardour” (29:13 min.). It is often said of this film that it is experimental, but unlike what used to happen with the experimental films of the time, in which the soundtrack was circumstantial it responded to the musical tastes of the author of the film, with little or no relationship with the film―, however, in the case of “Brutal Ardour”, the music used for the soundtrack is not only relevant but also becomes the protagonist element. In fact, it has been said by those who have commented on the film, that its very structure is determined by the structure of the music which, in that sense, the images would accompany (without prejudice to the fact that the images were also the result of a conscientious work of exploration and analysis). The music that we are referring to are the “Variations” that Brian Eno made of the Canon by Johann Pachelbel, published in 1975 as B-side of the disc “Discreet Music” (in the face A musical theme of wide development of what is would know later as Ambient Music). So much is the dependence of the images on the music of the soundtrack, that in fact the film takes its name “Brutal Ardour” from the third of the “Variations” made by Eno. These “Variations” by Brian Eno are characterized by having been built lengthening to exhaustion the notes that make up Pachelbel’s Canon. The images follow the same method. Starting from a kind of found material (as if they were the remains of the filming of a “Romeo and Juliet” anyone), that film is scrutinized in an obsessive way, in slow motion, frame by frame, enlarging it and delighting in its texture, the grain golden that floods everything with a melancholy luminosity.

We pay attention to this film at this moment because, as the most observers of our website have discovered, La Posta has a new president, Carmen Pardo Salgado, full professor at the University of Girona in History and Aesthetics of Music. With its impulse, a line of activity that includes sound art was approved in the 2019 Action Plan. Following this, on January 25, within the framework of the exhibition “Action Files. Collective self-productions of Cinema to come”, we had the opportunity to hear and see the first sound art experience at La Posta, a performance─sound installation by Luis López Casero, elaborated from sounds of the soundtrack of the movie”Come and see” by Elem Klimov. So, from now on sound art will have its time and space in our programming. In this context, the work of Manuel Huerga “Brutal Ardour” is perfect to bring it to this Screen of the La Posta website, because, to the relevant soundtrack, some experimental images are added that do not leave anyone impassive, composing that set a film very “in the limits” of the different creative areas practiced by La Posta.

Up on the screen you can see an excerpt from “Brutal Ardour”, with the original Pachelbel Canon, and, the complete film with the “Variations” by Brian Eno, here.