If one were to summaries this production in a single word, that word might very well be “uncertainty”…
This should not be taken in a derisive manner, because the production itself is, quite simple, marvellous. However, one cannot help but feel a little uncertain as to the ideals, or messages, around which the production is formed. This feeling of uncertainty is almost certainly initiated by the very moving narration, voiced by Cate Blanchett. The never-ending onslaught of open ended question that never get answered build the tension of the story.
Ordinarily, I would use the term “narrative” here, instead of story. However, to do so would be an overstatement of the linear through-line that holds the production together.
By the above statement I am, of course, referring to the combination of cinema and symphony. I have seen similar shows in the past, though mostly these have been built around the performance of very popular cult classics. This is not the case with Voyage of Time.
In many ways, this variation from the norm frees this production to convey something entirely unlike anything that many audience members are likely to have encountered previously.
One finds that, for me, this manifested itself in a powerful juxtaposition. Admittedly, the cinematics do take some time to allow the orchestra to open up. However, when this happens, such a powerful juxtaposition is created between the chaos that the audience sees on the screen, and the symphonics order that one is hearing.
The powerful realisation that comes from this observation, is that the cinematics are, in fact, telling the story of people. If one chose to frame it in such a way, one might determine that the chaotic story being told on the screen is the origin story of the musicians in the orchestra. Who now creating perfect, orderly, music… making order from the chaos of their special narrative.
Naturally, the musical composition and execution alone are utterly spectacular, and those who wish to indulge in some orchestral magnificence, without the philosophical undertones, will find exactly that in Voyage of Time.
Melbourne Symphony Orchestra
Voyage of Time
by Terrence Malick
Director Terrence Malick
Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne, Hamer Hall
Date: 6 October 2017
Part of the 2017 Melbourne Festival