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Kristin Scott Thomas,
Vienna, 1824. In the days before the first performance of the Ninth Symphony, Beethoven needs help with copying out the charts, so a promising student of composition, Anna Holtz, 23, is sent to assist him. She not only aids the transcription of the notes, she provides guidance from the orchestra pit as Beethoven conducts the work's debut. During the next two years, the final ones of Beethoven's life, Anna provides assistance to the deaf, temperamental, ailing man. In return, he tutors her in composition and explains to her the ideas and principles of Romanticism. He tries to speak for God. Written by
The film depicts Beethoven conducting the premier of his Ninth Symphony with Anna's help and at the end her turning him around at the podium to see the thunderous applause. In reality, Michael Umlauf conducted and although Beethoven was on stage keeping tempo, the orchestra had been told to ignore him. At the end of the performance it was one of the soloists, Caroline Unger, who turned him around to see the enthusiastic applause of the audience. See more »
Greetings again from the darkness. Films on icons and historical figures are always risky. Either the greatness (or evil) is exaggerated or the dramatization leaves us feeling empty. Director Agnieszka Holland ("Europa, Europa") attempts to capture the ego and genius of "the monster" Ludwig Von Beethoven in a dramatized version of his last year.
The beautiful Diane Kruger (wonderful in "Joyeux Noel", and also in "National Treasure") plays Anna Holtz, the copier/transcriber for Beethoven's famous 9th symphony as well as his final quartets. It does have similarities to Beauty and the Beast, but the film falls short in capturing his genius. All we get for an explanation is Beethoven's shouts of "God speaks to everyone, but he screams in my ear".
Ed Harris, continuing his knack for playing the crazed artist ("Pollack" "Winter Passing") does an admirable job in heavy make-up and wig attempting to show us the constant torture of the musical genius, who is so clueless on how to deal with the little people.
Harris and Kruger do fine work in their many scenes together, but the film never truly captures the greatness or genius of the artist. The closest it comes is the wonderful version of the 9th as we see Beethoven and Anna working closely (very sensually) to pull off the first public performance. Instead Ms. Holland keep it in the form of a small film, which is not altogether a bad thing.
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