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Geliebte Clara (2008)

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A look at the lives of 19th-century composers Clara and Robert Schumann.

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Credited cast:
Pascal Greggory ...
Malik Zidi ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Aline Annessy ...
Elise Schumann
Brigitte Annessy ...
Marine Annessy ...
Eugénie Schumann
Jacques Breuer ...
Robert Schumann (voice)
Sascha Caparros ...
Ludwig Schumann
Clara Eichinger ...
Marie Schumann
Béla Fesztbaum ...
Thomas Limpinsel ...
Tausch (voice)
Christine Oesterlein ...
Manuel Straube ...
Johannes Brahms (voice)
Péter Takátsy ...
Walter Theil ...
Dr. Richartz


A look at the lives of 19th-century composers Clara and Robert Schumann.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Biography | Drama | Music


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Release Date:

4 December 2008 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Clara  »

Box Office


DEM 6,200,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


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Did You Know?


The actor playing young Robert Schumann - Nikolai Kinski - is brother of Nastassja Kinski who herself played the lead role of Clara Schumann in 'Fruhlingssinfonie (1983)'. However, the opening scene of young Robert and young Clara has been cut for the theatrical release. It may appear in the Director's Cut on DVD. See more »

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User Reviews

Really Hearing the Music
11 November 2008 | by (somewhere) – See all my reviews

With "Clara," Helma Sanders-Brahms has fashioned another film version of the turbulent menage-a-trois involving Clara and Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms. In this relatively controlled musical biography, there is a sense of intention to delineate something of the efforts Clara faced: as a musically-talented woman, an outstanding pianist and composer, struggling to express herself boldly in the society of men at that time; as mother of several children and increasingly beleaguered caretaker of her husband, with Robert descending further into mental illness; and as galvanizing muse and romantic other to the youthful and impetuous Brahms. In terms of story there's not much new here. However, there is more than just a bit of music for listening to, and at some length with each occurrence. The big surprise of "Clara" is that it actually works against the film.

An effect is produced whereby, the more one hears the long passages of music, the more one attends to its depth, power and scope of expression, all of which unintentionally casts an unfavorable light on everything which tries to anchor it in the dramatic lives of the principals themselves. Although there is admirable restraint in Martina Gedeck's performance as Clara, as well as Sanders-Brahms' treatment (which is actually somewhat dry in itself), the intense focus on the music as a barometer of the inner lives of these people only seems to produce an unworthy melodramatic aura, and to paradoxical effect: Ms. Gedeck's luminous face seems at once more than adequate in its subtle registrations of feeling and thought, yet pathetically ineffective... Pascal Greggory doesn't appear to be dramatically excessive as Schumann, succumbing to the disabling "bipolar" fits he suffered, and yet he increasingly waxes unconvincing...

Until the realization occurs that the unusual abundance of music in the film overwhelms the proceedings, which points directly to a real problem with this kind of project (musical biographical films). 'Seeing' the drama of the passions 'behind' the music not only feels trite, but psychologizes one's reception to the music to the point of fixating its energy, so that it appears as the result of emotional conflicts and stresses which arise in a soap-operatic realm of human relationships. The music literally drags this burden with it and long before the end, I found myself wanting only the music, and not the accompanying images, because it was that much greater.

There is an unfortunate irony in that Sanders-Brahms has chosen to represent the inner tumult of the Schumanns, in letting the music-making on screen -- the intensity of the actors' expressions when hovering over the keyboard, their concentrated poise -- stand in for what cannot otherwise be outwardly depicted, which eventually likens to some form of psychodrama. Of course, when compared with something like Ken Russell's earlier outlandish forays into musical biography (Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Lizst), which added nothing to the appreciation of the music in itself except as soundtrack for his foolish visual pyrotechnics, perhaps Ms. Sanders-Brahms' example may seem more reasonable with its quieter veneer of finesse.

But the very fact remains that the music has survived to this day due to its own profound attributes, especially its intrinsic ability to move us, and entirely without the benefit of any behind-the-scenes scenarios as illustration, or even illumination (usually a greater error), for it. Such strategies tend to wind up revealing the music itself at a completely different emotional depth than that which is depicted on screen: there is no match. This inevitable discrepancy between the two serves the conviction that, ultimately, this story does not need to be told again, and perhaps many others like it.

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