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26 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Eroica! Brilliant!

Author: Enrique Sanchez from Miami, FL
16 September 2006

First I must clear up one thing. I have been a fanatic of Beethoven's music, life and words for nearly 40 years. I remember receiving a flimsy plastic 45 rpm-shaped record, which was timed at 33-1/3, in the mail advertising his music and the music of others. What I will not forget is hearing those first few bars. I will never ever forget that moment. Two crashing chords and straight into the first melody. It made a profound influence on the course for the rest of my life. I've since become a dilettante composer and enthusiastic champion of the music of this greatest of masters.

With that being said...I was brought into such a state of newfound discovery when I heard the Eroica again on this DVD. The Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique somehow has made an old friend sound brand new again. With the size of the noticeable orchestra being smaller than we are normally accustomed, and with the pronounced accentuation of the individual instruments, the sounds and the development of the themes were fresh.

I enjoyed almost every performance in this film. It doesn't matter whose I didn't like. It really makes no difference. The presence of Ian Hart, Tim Pigott-Smith, Fenella Woolgar, Frank Finlay, Leo Bill, Trevor Cooper, the beautiful Claire Skinner, and mysterious Lucy Akhurst and gosh, even Victoria Shalet and Joseph Morgan made the whole affair quite an enjoyable experience and transformed this into a true ensemble of players.

The effect of the cameras moving about was a stroke of genius. The camera swirled as the thoughts of the people present and listening swirled around the room.

Enough cannot be said about IAN HART who really brought this together. Those of who the character of Beethoven so well should be pleased with his take. Here we have none of the scowling Beethoven smirks which plagued his later years. Here we still have a youthful, but adamant figure struggling to make his way into the world of Viennese society. Hart has cast a Beethoven in his prime though quite immediately after his "Heilegenstadt Testament" period of great sadness. He is young and he still bounce back and get back to the music. One instance of this bouncing back was quite remarkably placed near the end of the movie.

To lovers of Beethoven, lovers of the Eroica, lovers of great music, lovers of historical dramas and fine period pieces, I recommend this film without reservation.

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22 out of 22 people found the following review useful:


Author: Floristan15 from United Kingdom
18 April 2005

Eroica is one of Beethovens most misunderstood compositions but this fantastic production depicts the first performance perfectly. Ian Hart plays the genius as he was, scruffy, un-kemt and bad tempered yet passionate about his music and suffering greatly. All the characters were well played, especially Haydn, and the music was sublime. Many of the happenings in the production, such as Reis shouting at the horn then getting told off, were based on true events. Pay close attention to the scene where the composer talks to the countess, when the countess refuses his proposal we can hear the beginning of the scherzo, as if it is being created by the pain Beethoven feels (aso a bit of irony because scherzo means joke in Italian). Wonderfully made and a delight to watch!!!!!!

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24 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Finally, classical music gets the television it needs

Author: JimShine from Cork, Ireland
25 October 2003

For some puzzling reason, I never really "got" the Eroica, but thanks to this marvellous production I (and hopefully many others) finally understand not only why the symphony was so important but also why it's so good! The basic idea of the film is that Prince Lobkowitz's orchestra is giving the first performance of the symphony for the prince and princess, the composer, and a few guests. After a shortish buildup to introduce the characters, the orchestra begins - and carries on for most of the film. As the music plays, we watch the characters listening, and occasionally hear their opinions. There is outrage when a trumpet comes in at the "wrong" time; smiles at certain musical turns of phrase; frowns at how loud it is. This superb film marries a great performance of a great work with an intelligent effort to put the whole thing in the context of its time. It isn't a film for people who already know all about the Eroica, but for a viewer who doesn't know Haydn from Howard Shore it must surely be enlightening.

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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A good 90 minutes, but was I voting for the music or the film?

Author: jocelyne-4 from Edinburgh
22 August 2003

Not so much film noir as film dusk, I spent the first ten minutes waiting for the set lights to be switched on. Having said that, Eroica is a beautiful to look at period piece about the first playing of Beethoven's Eroica or 'Napoleon' symphony (played by the wonderful Orchestre Revolutionaire et Romantique) for Prince Lobokowitz in Vienna. The film spans a day in the life of Beethoven in June 1804, examining not only his life and loves, but the lives of the musicians and the staff of the Palace in Vienna.

Much of the 'action' revolves around the audience of this magical performance. If only the Director had resisted the temptation to spin round the viewers as they watched! The film certainly flew by, but I was left wishing that this was only the start of the film and not the totality.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

"Everything's different as of today"

Author: alphabetgreen1996 from Canterbury, United Kingdom
18 March 2010

"Everything's different as of today" said a weary Josef Haydn, and how right he was.

"Eroica" is the best film about Beethoven that I have seen. OK, I've only seen three others, one of which was made in the 70s and I can't remember the name of that one. The other two were "Immortal Beloved" which was good, and "Copying Beethoven" which was horrendous. What attracted me to this movie was the clever direction and how it was made watchable despite the entire work being played throughout. When I say "despite", don't get me wrong, I'm a composer and I loved the music, but to be able to base an entire film around the complete performance (OK then, a rehearsal) of a particularly long work whilst simultaneously retaining visual and cinematic interest is a tricky task, and the director rose to the challenge magnificently. Ian Hart was convincing (unlike Ed Harris's comically over-acted portrayal, although his makeup was very good) and one of a very professional cast indeed. Isn't Fenella Woolgar gorgeous? Such a sexy nose! And so to the music. What was interesting was the fact that although Elliot Gardiner's soundtrack was obviously not that of which we see, it WAS played on period instruments. The biggest clue being when hearing the valveless horns playing the few notes that were not to be found within the harmonic series (on an Eb crook) sounding a bit flatulent. It also helps to know that John Elliot Gardiner is really hot on period instruments. I personally prefer modern orchestral instruments, but nothing can be taken away from the superb performance by this ensemble. Also the synchronisation must have been extremely tricky because all the musicians in shot were actually playing the music together, whilst acting simultaneously (they would have had to, to gurn their faces like they did as if the music was something completely new, which it so obviously was).

But what really made the movie work was the silent reaction to the music of the surrounding gentry and servants. It really helped to bring tears to my eyes.

A fabulous two hours of my time spent. Heartily recommended!!!

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Extraordinary presentation of Beethoven's genius/personality.

Author: Rod Parke from United States
25 May 2006

First of all, the performance of the symphony is terrific and beautifully recorded in 5.1 Dolby. The movie achieves a minor miracle in conveying how NEW and downright shocking this greatest of Beethoven's symphonies was. It also presents a believable and sympathetic view of his personality, passions, and temper.

The movie is very good looking and fun from start to finish. The appearance of Haydn and his utterances about the new symphony are perfect, according to what we know about his personality.

My favorites for this work have been Klemperer on EMI and Hogwood on Archiv, but I now prefer this performance over them all (including Bruno Walter's).

Easily the best movie about Beethoven that I have seen.

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6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

A perfect marriage of music and visuals

Author: mifunesamurai from Australia
11 July 2006

A perfect marriage of music and visuals that is simply superb in every way. My compliments to the well orchestrated direction and precise editing that enabled the music to flow through the emotions of the characters. The performances were well underplayed by minimal dialogue and the perfect facial reactions allowed the viewer to gain an insight into each character's individual feelings to the musical piece. All this aided by the very clever and tight structural screenplay. To top it all of, the photography and free flowing camera movements perfectly captured the raw emotions of this unique musical piece by Master Beethoven. All this in a lavish setting, reminiscent of Kubrick's Barry Lyndon. BRAVO!

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Heroic film

Author: joylily514 from Staunton, VA
16 August 2007

Eroica is a well done blending of film and symphony concert. Beethoven was a rebel pushing against the social status quo in his life and with his music. How we hear this symphony today is so completely different that it is nearly impossible to imagine how it seemed to those hearing this kind of music for the first time. This film helped me to do that.

I have had the great honor of performing this masterpiece when I was a student at Duquesne University, so it's always like coming home when I hear this piece. This film gave me an opportunity to visit it with fresh eyes and ears.

One thing I have to complain about is the usual one, the violas nearly always get short shrift when orchestras are filmed, but this is a small oversight in view of the entire movie.

Well done!

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

The performance should have sounded "horrible"

Author: lsaul-2 from Tucson, Arizona
29 December 2007

Well, that would have made for a tough film to sit through, don't you think, guys?

Although it's true that that first read-through was probably pretty rough.

Here is a short quotation from Ries via Thayer, which shows how well the filmmakers did their homework:

"...Here it happened that Beethoven, who was directing (the Eroica) himself, in the second part of the first Allegro where the music is pursued for so many measures in half-notes against the beat, threw the orchestra off in such a way that a new beginning had to be made." In the first Allegro occurs a mischievous whim (bose Laune) of Beethoven's for the first horn; in the second part, several measures before the theme recurs in its entirety, Beethoven has the horn suggest it (the theme: LS) at a place where the two violins are still holding a second chord (the violins are suggesting a Bb7 chord -- the *dominant* of Eb Major, whereas the horn is playing the theme (a simple arpeggio) in Eb Major, a harmony which sounded quite "wrong" to 1803 ears!: LS). To one unfamiliar with the score this must always sound as if the horn player made a miscount and entered at the wrong place. At the first rehearsal of the symphony, __which was horrible__, but at which the horn player made his entry correctly, I stood beside Beethoven, and, thinking that a blunder had been made I said: 'Can't the damned hornist count" -- it sounds infamously false!' I think I came pretty close to receiving a box on the ear. (Much more dramatic to come *more* than "pretty close"!: LS) Beethoven did not forgive the slip for a long time."

Thayer goes on to describe yet another rehearsal which Lobkowitz arranged for another prince, Louis Ferdinand of Prussia:

"To give him (Louis Ferdinand: LS) a surprise, the new, and of course, to him utterly unknown symphony, was played to the Prince, who 'listened to it with tense attention which grew with every movement.' At the close he proved his admiration by requesting the favor of an immediate repetition; and, after an hour's pause, as his stay was too limited to admit of another concert, a second. (In other words, it was performed *three* times!: LS). The impression made by the music was general and its lofty contents were now recognized."

In any event, I adore this made-for-television gem! Two things that make this film great are:

1. We get to hear a period-instrument performance by one of the best such orchestras around!

2. We get to immerse ourselves in Beethoven's world for a few hours, all done very beautifully. (The scenes *following* the performance are delicious!) HIGHLY recommended.


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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Beautifully filmed, well acted and wonderful music- pretty darn good if you ask me!

Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
27 August 2009

At 17, I love Beethoven's music, more his symphonic works than his concertos and sonatas, and this drama really helped me appreciate the extraordinary works of this fantastic composer. I have always considered Eroica one of his best works, from the rousing beginning, the haunting tragic slow movement depicting a funeral march, the charming third movement very like a dance, to the triumphant finale, it is a joy to the ears, and along with the Choral, is easily the best of Beethoven's symphonies. And the orchestra featured played it very nicely indeed. Eroica was just wonderful, I couldn't really fault it at all.

The drama looked absolutely exquisite, with the stunning scenery and locations, as well as the beautifully designed costumes. Any scene with Beethoven walking in the countryside was lovely to see, and I am glad the writers didn't miss that out, because Beethoven loved the countryside, and it was the inspiration for some of his more lyrical works like the Pastoral symphony.

The acting was of high calibre, with Ian Hart absolutely superb in the title role, making the composer a complex figure, quite temperamental, passionate about his work, and torn between the pain of his increasing deafness and love, yet also elegant and adamant. Everyone else was brilliant too, especially Claire Skinner and Tim Piggott-Smith gives a masterclass in understated acting, but other than the music, Hart's portrayal of Beethoven is what makes this superb drama so watchable, not to mention the intriguing story behind the work itself. The script wasn't so bad either.

All in all, absolutely fantastic, so well watching for a number of reasons, whether for the period detail, Hart's Beethoven, or for the fantastic music, that really does touch you with its emotions, joy, heroism and sorrow, all depicted beautifully in the work. 10/10 Bethany Cox

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