This series was made as a result of the BBC's hugely successful and popular series "The Genius of Mozart". Both series follow the same format, a cross between a drama and a documentary (docudrama), each series is made of three episodes of an hour each, and each is mixed with insightful pieces of narration by the popular conductor/composer/presenter Charles Hazlewood.
"The Genius of Mozart" was a big hit for the BBC, attracting masses of enthusiastic viewers of all walks of life. With this in mind you would think that a similar programme based on Beethoven would attract a similarly popular response. However this was not the case. This series was not viewed by a large audience, there have been no repeats or DVD releases and I was shocked to visit it's IMDb page to discover there were absolutely no user comments, (I write this now wondering if it will ever be read).
In brief, I remember watching this series and being absolutely blown away, It was so powerful I can still remember it in detail. In my opinion it is amongst the best work the BBC have ever produced and I am extremely saddened that very few people experienced the same joy I did from this series. I think "Beethoven" has become a lost gem and I will use the remainder of this user comment to argue my case.
The series was beautifully photographed and directed. The series was filled with a beautifully desaturated palette (with a prominent ochre for interior scenes) which gave a stark, imposing temperament. Along with this there were wonderful intersections with diffuses of aged yet colourful soft focus imagery, giving a romantic yet nostalgic feel, like a lost love. It was a breathtaking contrast of these romantic diffuses with desaturated scenes, to me it evoked Beethoven's isolation and difficulty to keep a grip on reality.
The story and dialogue was fantastically well written. It powerfully evoked the turmoil, isolation and despair of Beethoven. It was a highly accurate historical portrayal along with a caliber and sophistication of writing which seemed to transcend it's historical obligations giving a highly emotional, gritty and moving experience.
Along with the dramatised writing, the narration gave insightful knowledge and understanding which aided the enjoyment of the series.
The acting was fantastic. Primarily Paul Rhys as Beethoven, who gave a performance filled subtlety, sadness, passion and isolation.
I think overall this series was of allot better quality than "The Genius of Mozart". It was evocative, compelling and passionate. It saddens me to think this series will be lost and never remembered.
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