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Prof. Joseph Elsner guides his protégé Frydryk Chopin through his formative years to early adulthood in Poland. At a recital in a duke's home Chopin insults the new Russian-installed governor, and must flee the country. The professor takes him to Paris, where he eventually comes under the wing and influence of novelist George Sand and rises to prominence in the music world, to the exclusion of his old friends and patriotic feelings towards Poland. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"A Song to Remember" is one of many bios and biopics based on the lives and careers of great composers. It is a superficial and inaccurate account of Frederic Chopin, executed with rich production values, colorful performances, and fine piano renderings on the soundtrack.
What makes filmmakers constantly churn out these gross fabrications on composers? Probably because with all the emotional and dramatic power of their music, these creative artists surely must have lived very exciting lives.
In truth, the dramatic power and emotional expressiveness undoubtedly took place in their studios, where all the action and revelation raged within their heads, through their fingers, and onto score paper.
Theirs was a world of technical concentration, dedication and execution. It was about problems of form, balance, themes, voicings, instrumentation and the like -- in other words, matters concerning the elements of music.
Not much there in the way of dramatic subject material. Yet screenplay writers, producers and directors go on concocting characters that never existed, situations that never took place, and scenes that impose 'modern' views upon 'classic' events.
Thus we have Lizst ("Song Without End") Mozart ("Amadeus") Beethoven ("Immortal Beloved") Schumann and Brahms ("Song of Love") Kern ("Til the Clouds Roll By") Rodgers and Hart ("Words and Music") and countless others being given The Treatment. Is it truly a song without end?
In "A Song to Remember" we are required to suspend our historical knowledge and go with the flow of romantic melodrama, as the life and career of the Chopin is brazenly exploited for dramatic purposes. Thus we can thrill to the the pianism of Jose Iturbi, revel in the beauty and grace of Merle Oberon, enjoy the young and debonair Cornell Wilde, and devour the rococo posturings of Paul Muni. Were only life really as dramatically pat as this.
Legally filmmakers have no worries over such exploitation. The subjects and families are all conveniently deceased, and it's fair game without risk of lawsuits or infringment cases. Further, the music is, for the most part, in public domain, cancelling out copyright costs.
Therefore we simply place a mental inscription over the portal to these fanciful journeys: "Abandon Your Senses, All Ye Who Enter Here."
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