5.6/10
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4 user 8 critic

Beloved Clara (2008)

Geliebte Clara (original title)
A look at the lives of 19th-century composers Clara and Robert Schumann.
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Cast

Credited cast:
Martina Gedeck ... Clara Schumann
Pascal Greggory Pascal Greggory ... Robert Schumann
Malik Zidi ... Johannes Brahms
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Aline Annessy Aline Annessy ... Elise Schumann
Brigitte Annessy Brigitte Annessy ... Bertha
Luc Annessy Luc Annessy ... Ferdinand
Marine Annessy Marine Annessy ... Eugénie Schumann
Jacques Breuer ... Robert Schumann (voice)
Sascha Caparros Sascha Caparros ... Ludwig Schumann
Michael Court ... Masked Angel
Rainer Delventhal Rainer Delventhal ... Klingbeil
Clara Eichinger Clara Eichinger ... Marie Schumann
Béla Fesztbaum Béla Fesztbaum ... Tausch
Rainer Goernemann Rainer Goernemann ... Music Agent
Domonkos Héja Domonkos Héja ... Conductor
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Storyline

A look at the lives of 19th-century composers Clara and Robert Schumann.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Germany | France | Hungary

Language:

German

Release Date:

4 December 2008 (Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Beloved Clara See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

DEM 6,200,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director/Writer Helma Sanders-Brahms is a great-great-grandniece of depicted composer Johannes Brahms. See more »

Soundtracks

from: Albumblätter Op. 99. Ziemlich langsam
You were listening to: Robert Schumann
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Really Hearing the Music
11 November 2008 | by TravelerThruKalpasSee all my reviews

With "Clara," Helma Sanders-Brahms has fashioned another film version of the turbulent menage-a-trois involving Clara and Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms. In this relatively controlled musical biography, there is a sense of intention to delineate something of the efforts Clara faced: as a musically-talented woman, an outstanding pianist and composer, struggling to express herself boldly in the society of men at that time; as mother of several children and increasingly beleaguered caretaker of her husband, with Robert descending further into mental illness; and as galvanizing muse and romantic other to the youthful and impetuous Brahms. In terms of story there's not much new here. However, there is more than just a bit of music for listening to, and at some length with each occurrence. The big surprise of "Clara" is that it actually works against the film.

An effect is produced whereby, the more one hears the long passages of music, the more one attends to its depth, power and scope of expression, all of which unintentionally casts an unfavorable light on everything which tries to anchor it in the dramatic lives of the principals themselves. Although there is admirable restraint in Martina Gedeck's performance as Clara, as well as Sanders-Brahms' treatment (which is actually somewhat dry in itself), the intense focus on the music as a barometer of the inner lives of these people only seems to produce an unworthy melodramatic aura, and to paradoxical effect: Ms. Gedeck's luminous face seems at once more than adequate in its subtle registrations of feeling and thought, yet pathetically ineffective... Pascal Greggory doesn't appear to be dramatically excessive as Schumann, succumbing to the disabling "bipolar" fits he suffered, and yet he increasingly waxes unconvincing...

Until the realization occurs that the unusual abundance of music in the film overwhelms the proceedings, which points directly to a real problem with this kind of project (musical biographical films). 'Seeing' the drama of the passions 'behind' the music not only feels trite, but psychologizes one's reception to the music to the point of fixating its energy, so that it appears as the result of emotional conflicts and stresses which arise in a soap-operatic realm of human relationships. The music literally drags this burden with it and long before the end, I found myself wanting only the music, and not the accompanying images, because it was that much greater.

There is an unfortunate irony in that Sanders-Brahms has chosen to represent the inner tumult of the Schumanns, in letting the music-making on screen -- the intensity of the actors' expressions when hovering over the keyboard, their concentrated poise -- stand in for what cannot otherwise be outwardly depicted, which eventually likens to some form of psychodrama. Of course, when compared with something like Ken Russell's earlier outlandish forays into musical biography (Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Lizst), which added nothing to the appreciation of the music in itself except as soundtrack for his foolish visual pyrotechnics, perhaps Ms. Sanders-Brahms' example may seem more reasonable with its quieter veneer of finesse.

But the very fact remains that the music has survived to this day due to its own profound attributes, especially its intrinsic ability to move us, and entirely without the benefit of any behind-the-scenes scenarios as illustration, or even illumination (usually a greater error), for it. Such strategies tend to wind up revealing the music itself at a completely different emotional depth than that which is depicted on screen: there is no match. This inevitable discrepancy between the two serves the conviction that, ultimately, this story does not need to be told again, and perhaps many others like it.


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