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Ravel's Brain

Ravel's Brain

RAVEL'S BRAIN is a musical/visual tone poem at once tragic and celebratory in its mood. The film portrays the inner being of a great artist who was rendered incapable of communicating with the outside world. For the last five years of his life, Maurice Ravel was the victim of his own lamentable circumstances. Afflicted by aphasia and apraxia, his brain produced music, but he was unable to write it down.

RAVEL'S BRAIN features interviews with a handful of Ravel's intimates as well as images of his home in Montfort-l'Amaury and his birthplace in Basque Ciboure where he first noticed the symptoms of his illness. The film takes us to Marrakesh where Ravel, deep in the throes of his illness, was so inspired by the swirling Arabic street music that he was graced with a few moments of lucid music-making. The resulting musical phrases and Ravel's final musical utterances are heard in RAVEL'S BRAIN for the very first time.

Finally, Ravel's brain operation that ultimately proved to be fatal, is recreated and set to song.

'An extraordinary film...more a work of art in its own right than a documentary...Bathed in Ravel's sparkling, elegant music, it all works stunningly.' Maclean's

'A strange, partly fictional and ultimately quite brilliant documentary... Written and directed, with great skill and originality, by Larry Weinstein.' National Post

''s a strange, gorgeous blend of film, music and visual opulence...In truth, Ravel's Brain is special.' John Doyle, The (Toronto) Globe and Mail

'Every time a tape arrives from Rhombus Media...I'm delighted. I never know quite what to expect but I'm sure that the program is going to be innovative and smart...(Ravel's Brain) is marvelous...At some point, a few years ago, Rhombus productions stopped being documentaries about the arts and became a form unto themselves.' Globe Television

'Music and science teachers seeking ideas for an interdisciplinary project may find inspiration in this documentary...Interviews with medical experts, as well as friends of Ravel, educate viewers about Ravel's condition and how it affected him.' Music Educators Journal


Main credits

Weinstein, Larry (film director)
Weinstein, Larry (film producer)
Fichman, Niv (film producer)
Bardet, Pierre-Olivier (film producer)
Ravel, Maurice (composer)

Other credits

Editor, David New; director of photography, Horst Zeidler; music, Maurice Ravel; original score, Alex Pauk, Alexina Louie.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

Mental Health
Performing Arts


Maurice Ravel, composer, art, aphasia, apraxia, classical music, Arabic music, Marrakesh, Montfort L'Amaury, Basque Ciboure, WDR Symphony Orchestra, WDR Radio Choir; "Ravel's Brain"; Bullfrog Films