Robert Wilson and the Civil Wars

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Robert Wilson and the Civil Wars is an in-depth documentation of Robert Wilson’s ambitious attempt to stage an epic, twelve-hour, multinational opera for the 1984 Summer Olympics. Filmmaker Howard Brookner follows the avant-garde theatre director as he confronts a hectic work schedule, funding difficulties and relentless international travel in attempt to complete his preparations. The film examines Wilson’s unique theatrical style during The Civil Wars: A Tree Is Best Measured When It Is Down, which involves the continual creation of evocative stage sets, owing to a unique juxtaposition of movement, sound, text and image. Known for his precise, painterly images Wilson’s work derives more from visual art than the orthodox literary traditions of theatre. As a result, Wilson often challenges actors to perform in a boldly minimalist style, as well as collaborating with non-actors, such as young autistic poet Christopher Knowles in Einstein on the Beach.


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English / 90 min / 1987



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