Article by: Gianluca Tana
Translation by: Daniele Gianolio
A deafening music that dazes the listener while at the same time brings him to a far and remote place, a man who claimed to be guided by the Daevas in the composition of his lyrics and who spent his entire life in a psychiatric hospital, heavily stigmatized by the music scene of his own time. In short, Giacinto Scelsi appears to be a character taken out from the pages of a story by H. P. Lovercraft. The documentary by Sebastiano d’Ayala Valva, a descendant of the composer, succeeds in overcoming this damnation memoriae by portraying a man aware of his own means, a precursor of his time who, as often happens to the great visionaries, is not acknowledged by his contemporaries and thus, disdained.
The director gathers the music, the memories recorded on magnetic tapes, the testimonies of the Scelsian interpreters and links them to his own personal experience and to the sweet images of him together with his elderly father. By doing so, he delivers to us an intimate and personal documentary, which induces the viewer to meditate on man and universe. I was particularly astonished by the reverence and respect with which the composer is described by those who knew him: It is crystal-clear that the life of these individuals has been deeply influenced by this man. To quote a metaphor from the film, Giacinto Scelsi has been like a single note vibrating in a time long gone. This vibration was able to wrap the people close to him in a hug, making them echo in an eternal exchange, which spreads Scelsi’s vision all around. We watch the documentary together with the elderly Michiko Hirayama. She teaches Elena Schirru how to interpret Scelsi’s music, which is nothing more than the echo of the vibration emanated by the composer himself.
I am deeply attached to the final reflection on life and death. The director, like his father, claims that he doesn’t believe in the afterlife. However, he feels a bit relived and hopeful just by reading his father’s poems. Even if nothing awaited us in the afterlife, wouldn’t we keep on living in the memories of the people we knew, like Scelsi in the documentary? And even when these people are gone, we will continue to live thanks to what we did, thanks to our work. In that perspective, the documentary aims at eternalizing the memory of the composer by telling his story. As the director declares to his father while filming him, “this one’s forever”.
The First Motion Of The Immovable is a rare gem, a heartfelt documentary which invites the viewer to reflect. With its sincerity and its aura of mystery, it succeeds in making us think, in making us vibrate according to Giacinto Scelsi’s great musical score.