Simon Rattle’s love affair with the Berlin Philharmonic, arguably the classical world’s greatest orchestra, scored a triumph with an outreach experiment which combined 250 schoolkids in a performance of Stravinsky’s pounding primal ballet, ‘The Rite of Spring’. Remember the original ‘Fantasia’s’ pre-history sequence, complete with battling dinosaurs? The same score provides the climax of this documentary chronicling five momentous weeks of preparation (too much for my review copy which flickered into panicky breakdown). The run-up features Rattle (faintly luvvy), the English choreographer (both pretentious and ruthless; when Germans want fun and Brits fiercely demand seriousness, you feel stereotypes have gone wrong somewhere). The kids, ranging from giggling scepticism to psychological withdrawal represent all backgrounds, including a Nigerian orphan, a bewildered refugee who thought all white people spoke English. The eventual result was reportedly inspiring for all concerned.
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