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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>
I love the music of Chopin. That is why I was eager to see this 1945 classic about his life. After seeing it, I enjoyed the film so much that it spurred me to seek out some biographical information on his life. After having done so, I realized that the story in the film bore very little resemblance to the truth and I was greatly disappointed. It was just another example of extremely entertaining Hollywood drivel.
As a work of fiction, the film was nicely done. The story was enchanting and it painted Chopin as a very noble patriot, playing himself to death in concerts to earn money to support the Polish revolution, though I found no support for that in anything I read. Cornel Wilde was nominated for an Oscar for his performance, which was excellent indeed, but he was incongruously cast. Wilde is handsome and athletic looking and Chopin was plain and frail. Paul Muni, though charming in the role of Professor Elsner, was much too eccentric and ebulliently peculiar to be very believable. The best performance by far was given by Merle Oberon as the cold and iron willed George Sand, whose love affair with Chopin turned into a tyrannical attempt to shelter him from the world.
The best part of this film was the music of Chopin himself, played brilliantly by Jose Iturbi. The music alone was worth enduring the Hollywood prevarication. I also enjoyed the 19th Century costumes.
I rated this film a 7/10. If it were a fictional account of some person who never existed, I probably would have rated it a 9/10, because it was very enjoyable. However, such liberties were taken with the truth that I had to deduct a couple of points in protest. If you are a classic film buff or a classical music lover, it is definitely worth seeing.
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