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on March 27, 2000
It is a delight not only for classical music fans but for anybody interested in the cinema with the European flavour! And that is what "Meeting Venus" is really about: music and Europe, the latter after the transformations of the recent times. But don't worry, it's not a hard to digest treatise on the European problems, but a light satire marvellously performed by an international cast led by Glenn Close and Niels Arestrup. The plot is very simple - a Hungarian conductor comes to Paris to lead "Opera Europa" in a goofy production of Wagner's "Tannhauser" [It is "Tannhauser" with "a concept" - the term, well known to the opera goers, refers to the opera productions that follow director's, NOT composer's vision of the work, like Peter Sellars's Mozart in modern costumes and settings - Sellars is the best known American "concept" director. There has been a true epidemic of "concept" productions in Europe in the recent decade and it is good to remember it while watching "Meeting Venus"]. Everything seems to conspire against the talented and energetic conductor and the final catastrophy is near, but... I won't give away everything, even if it really doesn't matter if you know the ending. I watched this movie many times and every time I come back to it, I discover many new details. I understand it better and better - not only as a wonderful metaphor, but also at the very basic linguistic level: poor diction (combined with poor English pronunciation) of some actors in the secondary roles makes this movie a little hard to understand, especially for people for whom English is a foreign language (I am one of them). It is a little hard, as I said, but not impossible - I want to emphasize it because I believe that people with the European, but not necessarily Anglo-Saxon background are the most likely to be interested in this very European movie. So, be prepared to use your "rewind" button quite often! If you do not know the story of "Tannhauser", it would be good if you can familiarize yourself with the libretto of the opera before you start watching the movie. It is not necessary, but it will help you understand (and enjoy) a lot, including the ending. If you dislike Wagner (as I do most of the time), do not let this prevent you from watching "Meeting Venus". You'll hear the famous ouverture and the glorious pilgrim's chorus, which are wonderful pieces of music. The final chorus will leave you spellbound! To sum up - this is a delightful, wonderfully performed movie and it is very likely to be one of your favorites, as it is mine. And just a final word to these movie lovers who do not care about music, whether by Wagner or not: even if music is an important element of "Meeting Venus", you can easily enjoy the movie without caring for its soundtrack. Just make sure you read the opera's libretto - that is enough to understand the movie's message. But don't be surprised if, after having met Venus you'll find yourself in the classical CD shop looking for "The Best of Wagner". Fragments from "Tannhauser" are guaranteed to be there, because IT IS (some of) the best of Wagner. Enjoy!
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on January 16, 2002
For classical music fans this film is an absolute delight, but even if you are not into opera you will love it. It is a great and complicated love story between a diva and a conductor. The film is also a wonderfully drawn vignette of the cultural clashes and ego-battles that accompany the birth of a great opera production.
When I first read about the movie I had trouble seeing Glenn Close in the role of an opera diva, but she does a marvelous job, and her lip-synching to the absolutely divine soundtrack of Kiri te Kanawa is really pretty good. Her counterpart Nils Arestrup does a wonderful job as well, playing the introvert, yet passionate conductor, for whom the whole Paris opera experience is alien and strange in more than one way.
The soundbites from Wagner's Tannhaeuser are well-picked and enchanting.
Some people may find the overall storyline predictable, but that does not take away from the overall very high quality of this movie
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on June 9, 1999
Maltin's synopsis and evaluation of the movie sum it up well, so there's not much more to say. It's a real pleasure to watch. Classical and/or opera fans will find it irresistable. There's something about the movie's pacing that will make it appeal to them. If you're not a classical fan, some of you may consider it a mere "chick flick." Some have criticized it as being too soap opera-ish. I dislike soap operas. I would have noticed. It didn't strike me that way. The cast members all gave excellent performances, though Close didn't come across all that well as a Swede. The characters' opera-sized egos made them a bit buffoonish, but it was all still effective. Both Close and Arenstrup were fascinatingly inscrutable in their motivations and compulsions. It was very entertaining to watch Szanto/Tannhäuser in his struggle to come to terms with his feelings for Anderson/Venus. There's a nice little twist at the end of the movie that works perfectly. Wagner's music is woven in beautifully throughout. "Meeting Venus" is a must-see for any classical/opera fan and anyone who likes a witty and accessable non-Hollywood movie.
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on November 2, 2007
"Meeting Venus" is sadly one of the least respected and watched films by the great Hungarian filmmaker Istvan Szabo. And what a pity that is! I had the honor (and it was indeed a great honor) of meeting Istvan Szabo, and we talked about his work and the impact his work has left on me. Not once did he mention this film.

"Meeting Venus" seems to be working on a few levels. It is kind of hard to pin down exactly one theme I feel the movie is playing around with most. I can see a social comment on the "new Europe". This film was made in 1991. The "cold war" has come to an end. The former "Eastern bloc" is now free. With that in mind, how will the "east" and "west" now get along? I can also see a comment being made about the importance of art. The film is about a production of Wagner's "Tannhauser" and the complication which go along with the rehearsals.

A Hungarian conductor, Zoltan Szanto (played by non-Hungarian actor Niels Arestrup) has been sent to Paris at the request of Jorge Picabia (the great Ingmar Bergman actor, Erland Josephson) and fellow Hungarian Jean Gabor (Mosko Alkalai) to conduct their new version of "Tannhauser" which will star a tempermental Swedish diva (played by American actress Glenn Close). With such an international cast, also consisting of Italians, Frenchmen and Germans, we are getting a commentary on how these group of strong nationalist are going to get along and unit into one Europe. As the production goes on however Szanto and Karin Anderson (Close) begin to have an affair. Something Karin is no stranger to and doesn't seem to mind Szanto has a wife, Edith (Dorottya Udvaros).

For those who don't know what "Tannhauser" is about, to put it briefly it deals with the struggle between sacred and profane love, and redemption through love based on two Germanic legends. And we can definitely see that being mirror in the film due to the relationship between the conductor and the diva and the conductors committment to finish the opera.

In this sense "Meeting Venus" resembles a film many people seem to think is Szabo's best work, "Mephisto". That film also dealt with the challenges and responsibilities an artist must face. If you recall Klaus Maria Brandauer would constantly say "I'm only an actor", meaning, as I interpret it, I can cannot change the world. I am helpless and must only deal with my art. We are getting a somewhat similar message here in this film but in an opposite form. The conductor is trying to tell everyone, art must bring us together. As artist we have a shared power and responsibility.

In the opening scene of the film Szanto complains how is mistreated in the west (Paris) and his passport is inspected and he is the only person who has his luggage searched. He muses to himself,can they smell Eastern Europe on him? Why don't they accept us as part of Europe? To this very day there is some tension between "east" and "west". As a Hungarian myself, with many friends still in Hungary, they have ill feelings towards western Europe. Here, in these scenes Szabo is making a comment on this tension.

While I must admit "Meeting Venus" does not reach the heights of Istvan Szabo's other works such as "Father", "Love Film", "Mephisto" or my personal favorite "Sunshine" it is still an engaging film. It ask us to think about things and how we view the world. It doesn't deserve the lack of attention it has been meet with from audiences. It is a very good film and should be put on DVD. Nearly all of Szabo's other films are, so why not? The film was also nominated for the "Golden Lion" at the Venice Film Festival.

Bottom-line: Engaging, intelligent film which sadly has not found much of an audience. Maybe because it was made by Szabo or people were afraid it would be in Hungarian or because it is about an opera, regardless the film deserves a second chance.
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VINE VOICEon July 4, 2013
Glenn Close's 40-year career stretches from Broadway to Hollywood. She's known for dramatic characters like "Albert Nobbs," as well as campy villains such as Cruella De Ville in "101 Dalmatians." As a big fan, I've enjoyed all her work, but "Meeting Venus" is my favorite Glenn Close film and the only one I've watched more than once.

Her performance as Karin, an operatic diva, who turns the maestro and the company's life upside down with her talent and dramatics, is breathtaking.

The main plot concerns the rehearsals for an opening-season performance of Wagner's "Tannhäuser" by an untested Hungarian conductor named Zoltan Szanto. The multiple subplots, however, are the heart of this movie as they explore the lines between art and commerce, dreams and duty, inspiration and insanity, and muses and mainstays.

Ultimately, though, it is a film that searches for the diva in all of us by considering through the eyes of the maestro and his star the age-old question of destiny. What are we willing to do, how far are we willing to go, and who will we become in order to realize our passions?

Talent expects a big stage, but a diva demands center stage. Glenn Close is front and center and dominates this film. For that reason, it is her best work. "Meeting Venus" is a masterpiece and I highly recommend it.
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on November 7, 2004
Hace tiempo vi esta magnifica produccion y desde entonces he pensado en adquirirla para mis tertulias de profesor de apreciacion musical. Lamentablemente solamente presentamos musica en DVD's. Anhelamos todos que esta gran pelicula sea llevada a este medio audio-visual. De la musica solo quisiera decir que esta muy bien elegida y las interpretaciones de Dame Kiri Te Kanawa merecen diez estrellas al menos. Me gustaria que todos los amantes de la musica clasica se unieran a este pedido mio para pedir la version en DVD. Gracias.
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on June 3, 2013
One of my favorite movies of all time!

OK, so I'm an opera singer and know each and every one of the types portrayed here, including the long-suffering conductor who is a dead ringer in every way to the first conductor I worked with professionally. But even if you aren't you'll love it too.

And it's topical, too! A May 2013 production of Tannhäuser in Düsseldorf was just almost cancelled for its Nazi themes, though there's just the one such ballet scene in the film.
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The tumultuous preparation of Wagner 's Tannhauser will work out as fabulous hook to this superb director (once of the top ten directors all over the world) to express the art is the only device to rejoin the different cultures and with major emphasis a continent: Europe.

Until this date I have not seen any film of this outstanding director that may be classified of minor. He has this devoted feature, the Midas touch, a symptomatic characteristic of the genius in progress.

The cast is fabulous. Glenn Close had to be nominated to the Academy Award for this unerring and towering performance. Glenn Close 's voice is dubbed by Kiri Te Kanawa.
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on April 29, 2011
When this movie was released in German movie theaters I was very compelled.
Glenn Close as the famous Swedish soprano and Niels Arestrup (I never caught any movies with him after "Meeting Venus" and wonder what he's doing now?) as the talented conductor preparing "Tannhaeuser" by Wagner are very convincing in their roles.
Glenn Close has her usual running through the rain scene like in "Fatal Attraction" :).

Since 2000 I was waiting for this gem to be released on DVD and wonder why it took 20 years?
I'm glad I can erase it from my long wish list of movies that are still not out on DVD.
It was about time...

For me it has passed the test of time.
Very recommendable for lovers of classical music and Close & Arestrup fans.
5 stars.
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on October 2, 2013
I ordered this movie because it was the first one my boyfriend and I saw together when we first went dating, so it has sentimental value for me. I remembered the movie to be special, with dry humor yet entertaining and so romantic, that I wanted it to be part of my treasured DVD collection. Apart from that Glenn Close is amazing in her role! I recommend it especially for the opera fans.
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