By Mark Laurie
Pilgrimage to Solitude is an experimental documentary that traverses the personal geography of the late Canadian pianist, composer, and writer, Glenn Gould. Through long, often stationary takes, the camera explores spaces that feature prominently in Gould’s life story, above all in Toronto but also outside the city, such as at his family cottage on Lake Simcoe and in the wilderness near the Northern Ontario town of Wawa.
The soundtrack of the film captures intersections between Gould’s art and the sense of place, using a sonic technique pioneered by Gould himself in his influential series of sound documentaries, the Solitude Trilogy: the formal treatment of layered voices which he called “contrapuntal radio.” Taking its structure from Gould’s most famous documentary, The Idea of North (1967), the film presents four of Gould’s friends and colleagues engaged in simulated conversations across the stereo field. They discuss, debate, and reminisce about Gould, the absent figure in the landscape.