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The Silence of the Angels

Produced by Olivier Mille.

Produced by Olivier Mille.

Directed by Olivie Mille. Screenplay, Mille, Jean-Francois Colosimo. Camera (color-beta SP video), Pierre Bourgeois, Antoine-Marie Meert; editor, Jean-Pierre Bloc. Reviewed at the Vancouver Film Festival, Sept. 30, 1999. Original title: Le Silence des Anges. Running time: 90 MIN.

This primarily French-made docu goes deep into the rich sounds of Christianity in its eastern-most forms, juxtaposing often spine-tingling live performances with austerely beautiful images of the environments that spawned them. Result — a perfect companion to the Jewish-themed “Song of Sun and Stars” — is a natural for pubcasters and religious webs of all stripes and is also in tune with music-minded fests and events.

As hypnotic, and occasionallyByzantine, as its subject, pic (originally called “Le Silence des Anges”) travels to North Africa, Russia and the Balkans to explore the reaches of music associated with the Eastern Orthodox church. Highlights are heard in Ethiopia, where the Coptic tradition marries Arabic, Hebrew and Christian modalities, and in the unheated monasteries of Zagorsk, where Slavic peasant women sing like seraphim and transport the listener to a faraway, snow-blanketed time. Helmer Olivier Mille finds the right tone in narration that remains personal while seeking out the honestly universal. Vid quality is very good, as is all-important sound, and both would transfer well to 35mm.

The Silence of the Angels


Production: An Artline Films production, in association with La Sept Arte and Les Productions Sablier. (International sales: Ideale Audience, Paris.)

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