Sometimes, life comes between us and our dreams. And sometimes, we are fortunate enough to be reunited. Overflowing with the talent and enthusiasm of the competitors and with the sound of their spectacular music, THEY CAME TO PLAY reminds us all of the passion that burns within us.
Multi-award winning THEY CAME TO PLAY focuses on the International Piano Competition for Outstanding Amateurs (hosted by the Van Cliburn Foundation), which gathers together 75 of the world’s best amateur pianists for one week of intense competition and camaraderie. Candid interviews offer a glimpse into the lives of the competitors, who come from a wide variety of backgrounds and professions. All have struggled to balance their music and their ordinary lives—some overcoming extraordinary challenges—and now, all hope to make years of dedication pay off in the performance of a lifetime.
At first I thought this would be another documentary about boring musicians who are full of themselves but I was quickly surprised—this isn’t about those kind of musicians, this is about musicians who just do it for the love of it and didn’t make a career from it. While I don’t want to say that they’re the “true” musicians, it’s always more interesting to me to talk to people about their hobbies rather than their job as rarely do you get to be in the job you wanted when you were younger. On the other hand hobbies are something that are more freeing—doing things you love just because you love them and not because you need to do it to support yourself. While it’s great there are those out there who can make a living doing what they love, many people aren’t in such a position so watching a documentary about everyday people who also happen to be superb pianists is actually quite a bit more enjoying than I thought it would be.
The film itself focuses on a 2007 competition of musicians 35 and older who don’t play professionally. We get to know a select few of the musicians personally, but the majority of the documentary focuses on the competition as well. It’s a very nice balance between the two and between the hour and a half that it runs you wonder how much more footage existed of these wonderfully talented musicians.
It’s a really nicely executed documentary/film with director Alex Rotaru keeping the pacing alive from start to finish. He focuses just the right amount on the individual musicians as well as on the event and never really goes overboard in either direction. In the end it’s a very simple yet effective documentary about something you otherwise really wouldn’t have any knowledge about, lest you were a part of the event yourself. Recommended.
docuramafilms brings They Came to Play to DVD in a standard amaray DVD case. Nothing overly special about the presentation of the documentary here—no fancy exterior cardboard slipcase and the cover itself looks kind of boring with it’s overabundance of black, but the piano keys provide a nice contrast. Video and audio is a solid presentation overall and about what you’d expect from a documentary. As can be expected from a documentary the video is in 1.33:1 and the audio is a simple DD2.0 mix.
Extras are sadly limited to a brief bit of Extended Performances but are worth checking out either way.
I’d keep this one to a Rental as I doubt it’s something you’ll be going back to see again.
They Came to Play is now available on DVD.