, October 2012
This is a splendid contribution to the Cage anniversary…Probably without consciously setting out necessarily to clarify, to illustrate or explicitly to advocate, Frank Scheffer’s nearly hour long documentary, How to get out of the Cage—a Year with John Cage provides extremely eloquent insights into the essence of Cage. Anyone interested in modern music, indeed in the way music and art more generally work (the relationships between movement in dance and musical time are a key example), and where they might be going, will benefit from careful interaction with the material of this new DVD.
How to get out of the Cage—a Year with John Cage is a very well-made film. “Raw” material it may be composed of. But barely a minute in, you’re just as aware of a finely wrought, sensitive and expertly edited film as you are of the craft of spontaneity which Scheffer has obviously aimed for. And succeeded: his shooting, editing and mounting styles are never self-conscious. To our benefit How to get out of the Cage carries over [Cage’s] sense of wonder, without adulation. It is indeed an intimate portrait—but as much because it’s so full of color and insight, never prurient. An adult homage. And a homage with as much structure as impression.
That Scheffer himself used the I Ching to determine segmentation of the documentary is an indication of just how deep and real was Cage’s influence on the film maker. The Buddhist “red thread” still binds everything together effectively. Aside from the introduction and closing credits, there are five substantive sections to the whole: Nachcagetag…Roaratorio; Los Angeles Festival; New York; and Europas.
As if the illumination and insights of the 56 minutes of How to get out of the Cage itself weren’t enough, this superb DVD from EuroArts (which nicely blends “art film” with information-packed documentary) also contains five “experimental films” by Scheffer. These are Stoperas I & II…Wagner’s Ring…Chessfilmnoise… Nopera…and Ryoanji…They too make interesting viewing; and go towards making this DVD excellent value for money. They, too, contribute to our appreciation that, for Cage, sound rarely exists in isolation. Music is part of the wider world. This is a thesis with so many levels and a thesis potentially amenable of a complete misrepresentation that it’s a delight to see it so well handled here. This…is Sheffer’s most significant achievement in this work. It is warmly recommended. © 2012 Classical Net Read complete review