Musical pilgrims bring Bach to Strangers on the Earth

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      A documentary by Tristan Cook. In English, Spanish, and German, with English subtitles. Rating unavailable

      Giving ad hoc concerts in churches as he goes, American cellist Dane Johansen is among the pilgrims followed on the monthlong journey along Spain’s Camino de Santiago—the subject of many other films in the last decade, in both documentary and fictive styles.

      Newcomer Tristan Cook’s impressionistic 95-minute doc draws on The Way and other films about the challenging route in order to give context to a pilgrimage that means something different to everyone who makes it. A 10-person crew accompanied the young musician as he set out each morning on the roughly 800-kilometre journey with his cello (in a light, manmade-fibre case) strapped to his back, taking time along the way to meet travellers from Germany, Brazil, Canada, and elsewhere.

      Along the way, Johansen—who also helped produce the film—performs J.S. Bach’s instantly recognizable six Cello Suites at churches and community centres, for travellers and locals alike, and the effect is often moving. Overall, though, the movie is pleasant, but only intermittently engaging.

      On several dates, it is showing with The Gardener, an expansive visit to the subtly spectacular grounds of the Jardins de Quatre-Vents, in La Malbaie, Quebec. That was the green-thumb baby of Frank Cabot, who nurtured the massive family spread until his death in late 2011. The gardener of the title—of the Boston Cabots, who arrived in Salem in 1700—forsook his political dynasty to become one of the few foreigners ever to receive the Order of Canada, for his horticultural dedication. It’s a gorgeously shot tour, lensed by coincidentally named director Sébastien Chabot, although the flower-lined vistas certainly didn’t require such treacly orchestral accompaniment.