Published online by Cambridge University Press: 29 November 2011
In Jim Jarmusch's Int. Trailer. Night (2002) a young American actress, alone in her trailer for a ten-minute break, lights up a cigarette and puts on a CD of the Goldberg Variations. In this short, almost plotless experimental film Bach sounds outside the frameworks that typically motivate the diegetic presence of so-called ‘classical music’ in cinema, detached from the places and signifiers of high art and from high-level meanings and pointed occurrences. This unusual representation of listening opens up two complementary lines of enquiry: first, into the way in which Jarmusch draws on Bach to invent a reality that is strange and irreducible, marked by unexpected cultural affiliations and by an elusive affective realm; second, into the way in which, by thus channelling Bach into his poetics of the everyday, the director reinvents the music's own identity, putting forward a de-essentialized image of its cultural placement and aesthetic status.