About the Icelandic composer Jon Leifs (1899-1968) who spent much of his life in Germany before WWII. The film begins in the 1930s after he has married the daughter of an industrialist, ...
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About the Icelandic composer Jon Leifs (1899-1968) who spent much of his life in Germany before WWII. The film begins in the 1930s after he has married the daughter of an industrialist, Annie, who is also a concert pianist. This era was frustrating for Leifs because his works were seldom performed.Written by
Ulf Kjell Gür
Fictionalised biography of the great Icelandic composer. An affecting story.
This was an important and a brave step forward, towards an overdue reappraisal of the life and work of the much neglected Icelandic composer Jón Leifs. Done at a time when recordings of his music were scarce, since the release of Tears Of Stone a considerable discography has been achieved and more public performances of his most ambitious pieces given. Long may they continue.
This film is quite hard to track down, but worth the effort, despite being a bit rough round the edges (much like the composer). Attention is focused on the existence of the Leifs family in Germany as Nazism takes hold and the future of Leifs' Jewish in-laws threatened. Jón is a gifted conductor but dreams of success as a composer; Annie, his German-Jewish wife, is a renowned concert pianist with no desire to give up her career. The family eventually find themselves cornered by the racial intolerance of the new regime. Jón, forced into an impossible position, has to choose the lesser of two evils. But which is which? I think, after watching the film and its documentary on DVD, that the team behind this biopic were in two minds about what they wanted to do. First a documentary, then a TV series, then what is an episodic fictionalised biopic that focuses strictly on Leifs' family more than on his musical progression or his national pride. If you approach this film as if it were one of those Ken Russell composer profiles, minus any kind of narrator or real life witnesses, then it will make more sense.
The cinematography is strikingly impressive. Various scenes were filmed, as it were, around the music which forms the soundtrack; Leifs' music is, for the most part, well chosen for each scene, but not always subtly. The actors do well but the script is sometimes too ordinary, too prosaic. Too bald. It is a film about love but also frustration: artistic, social, personal. As such, it's not exactly a cheerful experience, but it does provide a fresh slant on a well documented era and if not exactly the height of sophistication, Tears Of Stone is, like its protagonist, a rough diamond, but a diamond all the same.
None too slick and all the better for it. Definitely a film I'll be coming back to.
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