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103 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beethoven It Ain't, But Movie-Making It Is, January 22, 2002
This review is from: Immortal Beloved (Special Edition) (DVD)
No. You won't learn about the truth of the identity of Beethoven's eponymous title from this marvelous film, told in cinematic episodic jumps, fits and starts and from various points of view each based on an 'interviews' by Anton Schindler afer Ludwig Von Beethoven's death. The plot, at least insofar as the revelation of the true lady behind the tortured Maestro's love, is just so much hooey.
But the evolution of Beethoven as a composer might just be fairly valid, if exaggerated and oversimplified. Beethoven's growing deafness, his outrageously overprotective attitudes towards his nephew (culminating in a botched suicide attempt by the latter), the invasion of Vienna, are all documented and presented in this gorgeous film with, at times, heartbreaking verisimilitude.
And, you will probably never again hear many of Beethoven's most famous pieces without recalling the images of the film. The last movement of the famous 'Moonlight' piano sonata accompanies a furiously rushing coach through the rainy streets so Beethoven can meet his beloved; an image of the composer superimposed against the cosmos accompananies the Ninth Symphony (Choral). And so much more.
Gary Oldman as the composer is perfect. Jeroen Krabbe is just right as his Boswellian friend who seeks the truth at all costs after Beethoven's death.
The settings are sumptuous. You will appreciate the cutting and the editing more and more as the film progresses. Ditto the superb direction. The score is magnificently realized by both orchestra and conductor and pianist, chamber musicians, all involved.
Reality? Nope. A tantalazing suggestion of what might have realistically been? That's more of what you can expect. If you want reality, I suggest you take George R. Marek's unsurpassable biography, 'Beethoven,' out of the library and luxuriate in it.
'Immortal Beloved' is a cinematic experience that will most likely appeal to lovers of classical music in general and Beethoven's music in particular. But this statement should not put off anyone who is not necessarily a fan. If anything, the more casual listener might just be entranced enough to understand why Beethoven and his music have lasted through the centuries.
This is a film for all of us.
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Initial post: Sep 20, 2014 2:15:00 PM PDT
A screenplay, based on real facts (a.k.a. The Truth), is available in Beethoven's Only Beloved: Josephine! (2nd ed.): First English Biography of the Only Woman Beethoven Ever Loved.
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