Thy Kiss of Devine Nature - The Contemporary Perotin

Portrait of the mediaval composer Perotinus Magnus

The name of composer Perotinus Magnus (approx. 1170 -- approx. 1230) marks the beginning and also the first blossoming of European vocal polyphony. Because polyphony represents the predominant factor of European music culture other than in other musical cultures, our film goes on a quest for the way the European identity evolved, and more specifically the musical one.
The invention of polyphony is connected with a number of other innovations during this time, e.g. Gothic architecture, the invention of the clock, the invention of money (in its nowadays still valid abstract meaning), the creation of labour division and in addition a lot of attention was paid to the cult of the Blesses Virgin Mary, with aspecial emphasis on the legend of the Immaculate Conception, which exerted a virtually manic fascination and occupied the way of thinking in the whole European world at that time. Perotins music, because of its exactness and overwhelmingly beautiful moves, has even today's listener (and not only the musically trained ones) under a spell. At the moment the Hilliard Ensemble is the most famous and most competent ensemble for this kind of music. With the technical possibilities of the 21st century our film could create a contemporary film language that enabled us to reconstruct some of the effect Perotins music had on the listeners of the 12th- and 13th- century. This is not an easy task, because the legend of the Conception of the Virgin is nowadays primarily remebered as having been invented by the brains of sexually aroused men. However, it does not explain the fascination this idea had throughout the whole of the Middle Ages. In our film we primarily make use of two means. Firstly: the nave of the church, used by the Hilliards to perform Perotin’s music, will be decorated during the course of the film by an animated light-show of frescos and cathedrals, projected on the walls, in unison with the texts and sounds of the songs of Perotin. Using light as a vehicle for the Divine Spirit was of course characteristic for Gothic architecture. We have extended this to make it visible to spectators today. Secondly: dance. A choreography by Johann Kresnik, inspired by the ecstatic medieval dances for Holy Mary, a dance of two women who have got it into her heads to seduce the Holy Spirit, evoking a love story between heaven and earth. One of them doesn’t notice this spirit appear because she wears an eyepatch. She is blind but the other woman does notice him and is crowned and becomes pregnant. Both interpretations, the projected cathedral and the choreographed dance, come together at the end of the film. The dance is projected on the ceiling and walls of the church, the nave changes into a dancing body created by the light. Considering that every church symbolizes a human body, Corpus Christi and the body of the woman who gave birth to him, than this part of the film only underlines one aspect of the myth, which has already been set in stone in the architecture of church buildings. The music is a part of the whole production.


Cast & Crew

Uli Aumüller