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The Temptation of Franz Schubert (1997)

The darker side of the composer is explored when he stays in the hospital for syphilis.

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Franz von Schober
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Karoline von Esterhazy
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Johann
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The darker side of the composer is explored when he stays in the hospital for syphilis.

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28 December 1997 (UK)  »

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The Double Life of Franz Schubert  »

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Brilliant subject, mediocre execution
6 February 2005 | by (Bath, England) – See all my reviews

Being a Schubertian myself (that is an avid and devoted fan of the music of Franz Schubert), I was naturally immensely happy at the prospect of a film about him with a quality cast including Freddie Jones, Jason Flemyng and Emelia Fox.

However upon viewing I was seriously disappointed in a number of ways:

1) It was only an hour long, and there is little you can do in an hour that does any justice to Schubert

2) The lead role (Simon Russell Beale) looked far too old and too fat to play Schubert (who died before his 32nd birthday). And although friends did describe him as 'round-of-face' there is no evidence he was anywhere near as overweight as this

3) Of course I was expecting large amounts of fiction and conjecture, but instead it distorted the factual events of his life in terms of time-span and ordering; i.e., when he contracted the illness, when he met the Esterhazys, when any of the music was written and so on

4) There are so many relationships to explore (plenty for good television). If he was gay, what about Mayrofer? What about Anselm and Josef Huttenbrenner? Did he visit boy prostitutes (peacocks?) like Oscar Wilde?

5) The poetry/inspiration? Hardly touched

6) Events happening around him (in Music and life?) Hardly touched

It is not awful, but it is neither good drama or good history: and it needed to be one of the two!

All in all, very disappointing. I hope we don't have to wait another 50 years (it was made on the 200th anniversary of his birth) before another better effort is made.

If you're not a fan of Schubert, I wouldn't even mention its existence.


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