Saturday, January 25, 2014

Immortal Beloved (1994)

Salute to Great Composers Movie #2

Synopsis: Great man croaks, and lackey attempts to discover the true meaning behind his last words. Oh wait – that’s the synopsis for Citizen Kane. Um... Gary Oldman portrays brooding, Central European charmer who seduces, and then sucks the life out of aristocratic women. Oh wait – that’s the synopsis for Bram Stoker’s Dracula! Um... violent, anti-social outcast causes mayhem to the music of Ludwig Van. Oh wait – that’s the synopsis for A Clockwork Orange. 

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “A man of genius. Women of passion. And the mystery of a lifetime. The untold story of Ludwig van Beethoven.” 

What Did I Learn?: Beethoven was a huge asshole. 

You Might Like This Movie If: You believe the Ode to Joy 9th Symphony is such a beautiful piece of music anyone should be able to sing it.

Really?: 1) Immortal Beloved is historical fiction, so I’m not sure how much of this film is true, and how much is fabricated. I will say that I had a hard time believing Beethoven would face no consequences after promising Clemens von Metternich a patriotic, pro-Austrian symphony, and then never delivering. 2) I can see Schindler (Jeroen Krabbe) going along with a lot of Beethoven’s bullshit, but helping him take a young boy away from his mother? Wow...that’s low.  

Rating: Immortal Beloved is an interesting companion film to Amadeus; both are set in Vienna (although Beethoven’s heyday was shortly after Mozart’s), and deal with very different musical geniuses. Both movies are filled with great performances (Oldman is outstanding as the troubled maestro), stunning visuals and incredible music. My only complaint about Immortal Beloved is that it’s hard to sympathize with such a nasty character as Beethoven, especially when he seizes custody of his nephew, Karl. (see “What Did I Learn?” and “Really?). Still, Highly Recommended. 9/10 stars.

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