Following the Ninth is a documentary film about the global impact of Beethoven’s final symphony. The film, released in mid-2013, has screened in over 250 cities in the United States and around the globe, with more to come.
Written in 1824, near the end of Beethoven's life, the Ninth Symphony was composed by a man with little to be thankful for. Sick, alienated from almost everyone, and completely deaf, Beethoven had never managed to find love, nor create the family he’d always wanted. And yet, despite this, he managed to create an anthem of joy that embraces the transcendence of beauty over suffering.
Celebrated to this day for its ability to heal, repair, and bring people together across great divides, the Ninth has become an anthem of liberation and hope that has inspired many around the world:
- At Tiananmen Square in 1989, students played the Ninth over loudspeakers as the army came in to crush their struggle for freedom.
- In Chile, women living under the Pinochet dictatorship sang the Ninth at torture prisons, where men inside took hope when they heard their voices.
- As the Berlin Wall came down in December 1989, it collapsed to the sound of Leonard Bernstein conducting Beethoven’s Ninth as an “Ode To Freedom.”
- In Japan each December, the Ninth is performed hundreds of times, often with 10,000 people in the chorus. Following the Ninth gives us insight into the heightened importance of this massive communal Ninth, known as “Daiku,” in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami of 2011.
Directed and produced by Kerry Candaele—who previously produced Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices, Iraq for Sale, and the documentary A League of Their Own—Following the Ninth traces these stories, intertwining them with the history of the Ninth itself to create a moving ode to hope, freedom, and the power of art.