Music From the Inside Out
2004, NR, 89 min. Directed by Daniel Anker.
REVIEWED By Toddy Burton, Fri., April 14, 2006
Sure, my experience with playing music began and ended with the sixth grade, a French horn, and my heartfelt brutalization of “All You Need Is Love.” But still, it was impossible to watch Music From the Inside Out without thinking that maybe I gave up too quickly. Documentary filmmaker Daniel Anker spent five years with the Philadelphia Orchestra as they toured, rehearsed, and waxed poetic about the purpose of music in their lives. Weaving conversational interviews, concert footage, and behind-the-scenes activities, Anker’s film explores the question: What is music? Okay, so the narrative structure is thin and the filmmaking conservative, but the subjects present such passion in their search that it’s fun to get swept up in the romance. For those of us who flip to KMFA only in desperate attempts to soothe road rage, this film inspires a new way of listening to and thinking about classical music. Anker’s background in PBS is hard to miss as the storytelling resonates a starchy quality thick with the scent of public broadcasting. But while the film doesn’t contribute to the canon of great documentaries, it so lovingly presents its subject you can’t help but be moved. (It’s like the crazy band geek from high school. She may have been a wacko, but when you actually attended the recital, the beauty of the music made you appreciate her insanity. Kind of.) Sure, this story is far from the stuff of controversy, but it’s a joy to watch a symphony violinist espouse his fervor for Bela Fleck, a classical trombonist sneak off to play at a salsa club, and an Israeli cellist collaborate with a Palestinian in an effort to use music as a relational tool. In this age of incessant skepticism, where creation seems dependent on destruction, it’s refreshing to experience a film that narrates from a place of hope and celebration. Music From the Inside Out presents itself as a musical essay, but would certainly fall more under the category of a love letter. And ultimately, what would you rather experience anyway?