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Edvard Grieg: What Price Immortality?

3.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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(Feb 06, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description


A curious mix of sophistication and simple-mindedness, subtle nuance and ham-fisted clumsiness, Edvard Grieg: What Price Immortality? aims not so much to dramatize the great Norwegian composer's life as to offer an impressionistic illustration of it. As we watch the elder Grieg (pianist Staffan Scheja) audition two of his G minor masterpieces--the Ballade Op. 24 and the String Quartet in G minor--for his music publisher, his memories come flooding back, acted out in pantomime as the music throbs and thunders. There is some brief narration presumably culled from letters and journals, read with understated but touching emotionalism by Derek Jacobi, but no spoken dialogue. As a result, some crucial information is inevitably lost on the viewer unfamiliar with Grieg's biography; even worse, what is given gets played out in a histrionic, grotesquely melodramatic acting style. In its portrait of the life, the film is scarcely an improvement over the notorious Song of Norway; one hasn't seen boon companions gleefully spinning on a mountaintop or married couples miming a discordant argument with this much to-the-rafters overstatement since the early silent film era. Ironically, the best thespian by far is Scheja; while he doesn't bear much resemblance to Grieg, he brings to the part a weary prickliness that feels just right. His performance of the pained, multifaceted Ballade is equally lovely, as is the Auryn Quartet's reading of Op. 27, whose dramatic, searching innovations they reveal with a slashing urgency. --Bruce Reid

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Staffan Scheja, Philipp Brammer, Claudia Zöhrer, Sabine Oberhorner, Michael Baral
  • Directors: Thomas Olofsson
  • Writers: Thomas Olofsson
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 6, 2001
  • Run Time: 71 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000056NWQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,661 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Edvard Grieg: What Price Immortality?" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
You know you're in good hands when the beautiful landscape of Norway appears, the music of Grieg rises in the background and the marvelous voice of narrator Sir Derek Jacobi muses, "I feel like Peer Gynt when he says, "How heavy weighs each step when one must wend one's way back again"." This wonderful film chronicles the unique life and genius of Edvard Grieg through a seamless synthesis of film, music and narration. The theme of this lovely piece can be best summed up by Grieg's own words; "I made a monument of myself because I needed to....I did so because we both needed it. Me and all of Norway......But at what price? You may well ask, what price? The monument remains, but what is left of the man?.....What then is left of the truth? Truth, yes, in art and in life... that what I'm after." Art and life, truth and consequences. One especially enjoyable aspect of the movie is the use of musical notation as a metaphor for life: "A double bar line is a decision made. Now we made one. Over and done." Pianist Staffan Scheja is wonderful as the adult Grieg, and full performances of Grieg's Ballade in G Minor Op. 24 and String Quartet No. 1 in G Minor Op 27 ensure that this DVD will do double duty as a pseudo-CD in the near future. Highly recommended!
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Format: DVD
We may take this as a contrapuntal biography of Grieg: while the composer's music goes on almost non-stop with little dialogues, we have clips on the screen telling us his background, his friendship, his love and musical training etc. We are not told, however, how he was brought up, musically or otherwise when he was a small boy. Nor are we exactly told how he founded and ran the Norwegian School of Music, or that his wife was a soprano. We are only told how he hated Leipzig where he studied music...

This is not a movie with a plot and sense of suspense at all. Rather, it is more an explanation of the contents of Grief's music in a stream-of-consciousness sort of way. And as such, a lot of the charm counts very much on how appealing his pieces are played as the camera riveted upon the pianist and string quartet players. Very good in giving us some sketchy idea of his North European background and his works.

Recommended to music lovers particularly those who are attracted to his music.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Nice movie. Would have liked some subtitles though.

The music of Grieg that is played here is not amongst his most known songs, I Believe, with exception of the A Minor piano concert that is played in the beginning. It's a nice story and well done, but personally I'd like to hear more of Griegs compositions like the Holberg Suite and the music from Peer Gynt.
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