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Mozart's Sister

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Written, directed and produced by Ren‚ F‚ret, Mozart's Sister is a re-imagined account of the early life of Maria Anna 'Nannerl' Mozart (played by Marie F‚ret, the director's daughter), five years older than Wolfgang (David Moreau) and a musical prodigy in her own right. Originally the featured performer, Nannerl has given way to Wolfgang as the main attraction, as their strict but loving father Leopold (Marc Barbe) tours his talented offspring in front of the royal courts of pre-French revolution Europe. Approaching marriageable age and now forbidden to play the violin or compose, Nannerl chafes at the limitations imposed on her gender. But a friendship with the son and daughter of Louis XV offers her ways to challenge the established sexual and social order.

Review

BY ROGER EBERT The image that springs to mind is of the young Mozart touring the royal courts of Europe and being feted by crowned heads. He was a prodigy, a celebrity, a star. The reality was not so splendid, and even less so for his sister, Nannerl, who was older by 4½ years and also highly gifted. The family Mozart, headed by the ambitious impresario Leopold and cared for by his wife, traveled the frozen roads of the continent in carriages that jounced and rattled through long nights of broken sleep. Some royalty were happy to keep the Mozarts waiting impatiently for small payments. There was competition from other traveling prodigies none remotely as gifted as Mozart, but how much did some audiences know about music? Toilet facilities were found in the shrubbery along the roads. Still, theirs was largely a happy life, as shown in Rene Feret's Mozart's Sister, a lavishly photographed period biopic that contrasts the family's struggle with the luxuries of its patrons. Papa Mozart (Marc Barbe) was a taskmaster but a doting father. Frau Mozart (Delphine Chuillot) was warm and stable. And this is crucial: Nannerl (Marie Feret) and Wolfgang (David Moreau) loved music. They lived and breathed it. They performed with delight. The great mystery of Mozart's life (and now we must add his sister) is how such great music apparently came so easily. For them, music was not labor but play. One understandably hesitates to say Nannerl was as gifted as her brother. We will never know. She played the violin beautifully, but was discouraged by her father because it was not a woman's instrument. She composed, but was discouraged because that was not woman's work. She found her family role at the harpsichord, as Wolfgang's accompanist. The feminist point is clear to see, but Leopold was not punishing his daughter so much as adapting his family business to the solidly entrenched gender ideas of the time. There's a trenchant conversation late in the film between Nannerl and Princess Louise de France (Lisa Feret), the youngest child of Louis XV. From such different walks of life, they formed almost at first meeting a close, lifelong friendship, and shared a keen awareness of the way their choices were limited by being female. A royal princess who was not close in line to the throne (she was the 10th child), Louise had two career choices: She could marry into royalty or give herself to the church. She entered a cloistered order, and it was her good fortune to accept its restrictions joyfully. But think if we had been males! she says to Nannerl. Each could have ruled in their different spheres of life. Nannerl also has a close relationship with Louise's brother, the Dauphin prince (Clovis Fouin), a young widower. It seems to have been chaste but caring. Nannerl was always required in the wings of her brother's career, and after his death at only 35, she became the guardian of the music and the keeper of the flame. She found contentment in this role, but never self-realization. The movie is an uncommonly knowledgeable portrait of the way musical gifts could lift people of ordinary backgrounds into high circles. We hear Papa in a letter complaining about the humiliations his family experienced by tight-fisted royals (they were kept waiting two weeks as one prince went out hunting). Leopold was a publicist, a promoter, a coach, a producer. It is possible that without him, Mozart's genius might never have become known. The film focuses most closely on Nannerl, a grave-eyed beauty, whose face speaks volumes. She aspires, she dreams, she hopes, but for the most part, she is obedient to the role society has assigned her. Marie Feret, the director's daughter, is luminous in the role. --Roger Ebert RogerEbert.com

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Product Details

  • Actors: Marie Feret, Marc Barbe, Clovis Fouin, David Moreau
  • Directors: Rene Feret
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Music Box Films
  • DVD Release Date: February 14, 2012
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005ZMBDJU
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,315 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Paul Allaer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 18, 2012
Format: DVD
I had seen the preview of this movie at my local independent movie theatre for quite some time, and had begun to wonder whether the movie would actually come to Cincinnati, but this past weekend the movie finally opened here, and I did not wait long t go see this, as I imagine this will not play very long (and the DVD is coming out soon as well).

"Mozart's Sister" (original title: "Nannerl, La Soeur de Mozart"; 2010 release from France; 120 min.) brings a look in the life of 15 year old Mari Anna (nicknamed Nannerl) Mozart. She is 5 years older than her brother and wunderkind Wolfgang, but Nannerl certainly has certain musical talents as well, in particular in playing the harpsichord. But it is not until after a chance meeting with the recently-widowed Dauphin of France that he encourages her to start developing her own composing talents. Alas, that is not the way her father sees is. There are some further turns and twists but I will let you discover those yourself.

Please note: this movie proceeds at glacial speed, and I mean this as a complement. It reflects, among other things, life in the late 18th century when things simply moved a lot slower and there was not a whole lot to do to entertain one-self. I found it refreshing, to be honest. Also note: if you are not a fan of classical music, you are probably not going to like this movie, as classical music is front-and-center all over. It appears that people in those circles really didn't have a whole lot more to do than to play or listen to classical music. The harpsichord is delightfully featured prominently throughout the movie.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Howards End on February 16, 2012
Format: DVD
I loved this movie for reasons stated in above reviews as well: the movie has a beautiful atmosphere that really transports you to that time and that alone makes it well worth viewing. It is one of those rare movies that entraps you and really makes you forget you're watching a movie. The fact that it's about Mozart and his family and features wonderful music played by the two young siblings is the icing on the cake! Lovers of historical accuracy and fact checkers beware - you will find fault. But it is really a beautiful, lovely film that should disappoint no one interested in classical music, Mozart, and the time period. Yes, it does move slowly but again this is truly representative of that time period when things moved at a slower pace, not today's fast paced world - which only helps to immerse you in the experience!
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Format: DVD
The world may be familiar with the works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era and among the few classical composers that continues to be popular today.

But many do not know that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who was a music prodigy that played piano and violin at the age of 5, grew up playing as a duo with a musically talented sister named Maria Anna "Nannerl" Mozart.

Unfortunately, we do not hear too much about Nannerl. Reason being is that during that era in time, women, no matter how talented they were musically, were not seen as equals to men. Their status was lower and men thought that women just were not capable of having talent like men, may it be playing music or composing. In fact, women were just seen as housewives, nothing more, nothing less.

In 2010, screenwriter/filmmaker Rene Feret ("Bapteme", "Solemn Communion") wrote a fictional drama based on the life of Maria Anna Mozart.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

It's important to note that I am viewing a DVD screener ala DVR, so I am not going to comment on picture quality. I will say that with a Blu-ray and DVD release of "Mozart's Sister" being released, I recommend going for the Blu-ray version for better picture and audio quality.

With that being said, "Mozart's Sister" is presented in widescreen 1:85:1 and audio in French Dolby Digital 5.1 with English subtitles. The cinematography by Benjamin Echazarreta is very good in capturing close-up scenes of emotion but also the lavish costume and set design featured in the film, but most importantly capturing that look and feel of the 1700's.
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Format: DVD
This French production is the fictionalized biography of Maria Anna (Nannerl) Mozart, Wolfgang's older sister. The story has about the same amount of biographical fact as the famous "Amadeus" and the same idea of a dramatic point of view, mostly fictional. Where Amadeus deals with a drummed-up rivalry between the established Salieri and newcomer Mozart, "Mozart's Sister" deals with the conflict between the conventional and ambitious Leopold and his talented daughter. Nannerl is shoved aside in favor of the prodigy Mozart, and though it's not fully explained in the film, you can really get the sense how child prodigies and a good impressario (like Leopold Mozart, and for that matter, Ludwig von Beethoven's father) exploited the talent of their offspring to penetrate the elite circles of the aristocracy and gain wealth and fame. As an impressario, Leopold is both pushy and conventional, respecting the place of women (not to be educated or promoted, but to make a good marriage and be home with the children) while promoting Mozart as the true talent. Nannerl chafes under her father's despotic suppression and this is the heart of the film's feminist theme.

The film is beautifully produced, with stunning European countryside, palaces and best of all, the actors. Each one has a face that the camera adores and these faces (the Dauphin Louis, Nannerl, Leopold, and Louise of France especially) make you want to drink in each scene. The cinematographer works well in concert with the script, which leaves plenty to let you fill in the blanks--for example, the debauchery of the court at Versailles, under Louis XV and then his son, this Louis who died before he ascended the throne, a throne that ended in the bloodbath of the French Revolution under his son, Louis XVI.
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