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Playing the Thing

UK, 1972 (MIFF 1974)

Director: Christopher Morphet

Playing the Thing is a joyful celebration of the multiple sounds, moods and pleasures, which can be obtained from that somewhat despised instrument, the harmonica. The film, traces the history of the instrument from its origins in China 2,000 years ago as a complex of bamboo pipes, via the Hohner harmonica factory in Trossingen, up to a spohisticated chromatic model made from modern plastics. The harmonica's greatest assets are cheapness and portability, as shown by street buskers and the Jarrow Crusaders on the march with their mouth organs. Virtuosi, like Larry Adler and Cham-Ber Huang, cannot disguise the fact that it is also an instrument of the people.

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