The Song of Life

A film by Irene Langemann
89 Min., 2012, Streaming

While he was studying at the conservatory, German composer Bernhard König became fascinated with the “wrinkled and grumbly voices” of the elderly. From that moment on, he decided to dedicate himself to finding an environment in which those voices could be fully appreciated. The Song of Life follows König during two intriguing projects. In the Sonnenberg nursing home in Stuttgart, he gets elderly ladies and gentlemen to the piano or accordion and translates the stories of their past into modern arrangements. In Cologne, he leads a chorus of old men and women – if you’re under 70, you need not try out – and together they put themes taken from their own lives to music. At a gradual pace, this stylized documentary captures how various compositions come to fruition, and how König – fascinated by this generation that was defined by the war – lovingly and patiently lets his elderly musicians shine. Poignant memories of youth and flashes of lives past are stirred up, while König and his protégés explore how certain feelings can best be translated into sound, achieving some truly touching results along the way.

Festivals: IDFA 2012, Belfast Film Festival, iDocs Bejing 2014

A Lichtfilm co production with SWR, WDR in cooperation with ARTE.
Funded by Film- and Medienstiftung NRW

World Sale by Journeyman Pictures

First broadcast of the 52 minute version at ARTE: Sunday, 30.03. 2014,  23:07