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Tony Palmer's feature-length dramatisation of the events surrounding the discovery in 1945 of a bundle of love letters written by the great composer Frederic Chopin (Paul Rhys) to the Polish Countess Delfina Potocka. After Potocka's granddaughter, Paulina Czernika (Penelope Wilton), approaches the Communist Polish government with the letters, a tragic series of events is set in motion with parallels to Chopin's own experiences a century earlier. Also included is a concert performance of Chopin's work by Russian pianist Valentina Igoshina.
Tony Palmer's The Mystery of Chopin combines two short films about the composer. In the late 1940s, a newly Communist Poland needs its national heroes to be squeaky clean: The Strange Case of Delphina Potocka documents the persecution and mysterious death of Paulina who claimed to own letters showing Chopin to be a viciously anti-Semitic egomaniac; Penelope Wilton is stunning as the dogged, and possibly deranged, Paulina and John Shrapnel, Corin Redgrave, John Bird and John Fortuneare memorable as the men who persecute her to protect Chopin's good name. These scenes are shot in a gritty black and white; colour is reserved for the dreamy and passionate scenes in which a brooding Paul Rhys moves through pastoral and revolutionary landscapes as Chopin and the inserted moments of Valentina Igoshina playing the music which is Chopin's true legacy. In the other film, Igoshina plays a selection of the standard works featured in excerpts in the film; she is a technically adroit performer, keen on the poetry of the work--but Palmer's camera is at times a little too in love with her luminous good looks.
On the DVD: The DVD has subtitles in German, French and Spanish; the sound quality is excellent--the piano recital has a particularly fine acoustic. --Roz Kaveney
I got this DVD mainly for the concert extra with Valentina Igoshina which is excellent.Published on 1 Jan. 2010 by R. BUKOWSKI
I am at a loss what the film makers were trying to achieve here as we don't learn anything about Chopin's legacy (and there are quite a few misrepresentations from what we do learn... Read morePublished on 23 Jun. 2008 by Trionon