Book of Days (1989)

March 26, 2017 · Tennessee Theatre · 10:00 A.M.

Presented in 35mm.

From Jennifer Dunning’s 1990 review in The New York Times:

“Meredith Monk has been an anomaly for much of her 27-year career as a composer and choreographer, creating dances that were operas, operas that were dances and mythic theater pieces that were operas and dances. To complicate matters, Ms. Monk is also a filmmaker. In Book of Days, she has created a film that is essentially a moving picture.

Book of Days opens, in color, with 20th-century workmen blasting a brick wall, leaving a hole that opens into a black-and-white small town in the Middle Ages. Men, women and children glide about their daily tasks, stopping to answer sometimes tellingly anachronistic questions from 20th-century interviewers.

“The medieval Christians are dressed in white; the Jews are in black robes, each marked with a yellow circle. Both are stricken by the plague, for which the Jews are blamed. A Jewish girl has visionary dreams that prompt her to draw crude objects identifiable as a car, an airplane, a gun. But there is no belaboring of those visions–or of the stylized plague. Book of Days is a very beautiful visual play of surfaces and textures, from brick to rough-plastered wall and from the luminous innocence that lights the girl’s face to the canny innocence illuminating the face of the crone, played by Ms. Monk, who teaches her to embrace her visions.”