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The Life and Loves of Beethoven (1936)

Un grand amour de Beethoven (original title)
Lyrical biography of the classical composer, depicted as a romantical hero, an accursed artist.


Abel Gance


Abel Gance, Steve Passeur (dialogue) | 1 more credit »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Harry Baur ... Ludwig van Beethoven
Annie Ducaux ... Thérèse Brunswick
Jany Holt ... Giulietta Guicciardi
André Nox ... Humpholz
Jane Marken ... Esther Frechet - la cuisinière
Lucas Gridoux ... Nikolaus Zmeskall
Paul Pauley ... Schuppanzigh
Lucien Rozenberg Lucien Rozenberg ... Le comte Guicciardi
Yolande Laffon Yolande Laffon ... La coumtesse Guicciardi
Jean Debucourt ... Le comte Robert Gallenberg (as Debucourt de la Comédie Française)
Jean-Louis Barrault ... Karl van Beethoven
Georges Paulais Georges Paulais ... Le médecin (as Paulais)
Georges Saillard Georges Saillard ... Breuning
Jean Pâqui ... Pierrot
Philippe Richard Philippe Richard


1801, in Vienna, two young women, his pupils, are in love with him. Thérèse de Brunswick's love remains unrequited even though she and Beethoven are engaged for years; Juliette Guicciardi, whom Beethoven loves but who marries a count, regrets that decision, but by then he and Thérèse are engaged. When Beethoven loses Juliette, he moves to the mill at Heiligenstadt; realizing he's becoming deaf, profound depression sets in. He rejects suicide, holding on to remembered sound and to his work, a dedication assisted by Thérèse and others. In later years, we see his devotion to an ungrateful and thieving nephew, his poverty, the isolation of deafness, and the love of friends. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Biography | Drama | Music


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Release Date:

21 November 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Life and Loves of Beethoven See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Général Productions See more »
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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film is one of over 200 titles in the list of independent feature films made available for television presentation by Advance Television Pictures announced in Motion Picture Herald 4 April 1942. At this time, television broadcasting was in its infancy, almost totally curtailed by the advent of World War II, and would not continue to develop until 1945-1946. Because of poor documentation (feature films were often not identified by title in conventional sources) no record has yet been found of its initial television broadcast. See more »


Symphony No.5
Written by Ludwig van Beethoven
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User Reviews

Hymns to the silence
9 December 2007 | by dbdumonteilSee all my reviews

It's considered polite to write that the silent era was Gance's time and that his talkies were mediocre stuff.Do you need FF Coppola to give them a chance?Do you? Gance was a pioneer even when he made talkies.Actually his post-silent career was a constant drift back and forth between adventure ("La Fin du Monde" "J'accuse" (2nd version),"La Venus Aveugle" "Le Capitaine Fracasse" "Cyrano et D'Artagnan" ) and retreat ("le Roman d'un Jeune Homme Pauvre" "Le Maitre de Forges" -actually mostly directed by Fernand Rivers- "Austerlitz" ).

"Un Grand Amour de Beethoven" is the follow-up to another historical biopic ("Lucrece Borgia" ) which exposed the worst of the man's weaknesses -or is it because of a bad editing where scenes were lost or deleted?-Gance did not repeat the same mistake:I'm not a specialist,so I will not argue over historical accuracy."Un Grand Amour de Beethoven" is not a biopic ,it's an experimental movie ,which predates another one,Forman's "Amadeus" .Gance's film is a musical poem ,where he tries to enhance the music with his pictures (and not the other way about).Most of the time,he brilliantly succeeds:he virtually invented the "subjective " soundtrack .These scenes when the musician feels the first effects of the illness are among the very best in the French cinema of the thirties,and as the thirties French cinema was the best French cinema ever,it speaks volumes about them.Gance simply cuts loose all the visual effects (mill,nature,thunder)at his command and lets the music surge and flow and ooze around his audience .This is shockingly transcendent stuff ,absolutely intoxicating in its use of dynamics -perhaps inspired by his previous experiments in "La Roue" -from silence to thunder .Gance also finds marvelous scenes to let us hear "moonlight sonata" .

Harry Baur gives another sublime performance ;the very long scene depicting the death of the artist has the strength of a dirge : while a "Miserere " is heard ,the face very slowly turns into a death mask.

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