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So Many, So Magnificent (O Quanta Qualia)

Paul Bush

United Kingdom, , 1987
45 minutes, Colour, Stereo, 4:3
Original format: 16mm film
Available formats: SD Video / SD Digital file

In the shape of an ever-rising cross a church is built, stone on stone, until its spires strike the clouds. A thousand years after the death of Christ it is as if men have lost patience waiting for his prophecied return and have begun to build heaven for themselves on earth. In a series of tableaux resembling medieval illuminations the story of the building and eventual destruction of a great medieval church is told through the words and sacred music of the period.’There is a rare treat on offer; spiritually uplifting is the cliche that springs to mind, although those viewers whose interest in cathedrals is more architectural and sociological than religious, might be more tempted to tune in if they are assured that the object of the film (shot in Canterbury, Lincoln, Salisbury, Southwark, Chartres, Reims, Soissons and Amiens) is not to show these great cathedrals as institutionalised monuments but as they appeared when they were built; what the significance was for people who lived in their medieval shadow; and how we, in materialist times, have debased the magnificent inheritance bequeathed to us.’ Peter Davalle’To the sound of liturgical chants and the writings of various saints, this charts the building of a church, blending landscape shots with tableau vivant of the monks and narrators. Stone figures carved into the edifice complain about the hardness of their unadorned lot. Old footage beneath a stained glass glow depicts the wars that tore down the completed church until we’re back with the ruins in glorious colour, and finally the film-makers at work. Not the speediest of films but it has one glorious moment of creeping sunlight and some stunning shades of glass.’ – Amanda Lipman’A spirited yet serious approach to architecture…’ – Sunday Telegraph ‘Lovingly crafted…’ – Guardian