31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars
Not the best film about the Maestro, 23 April 2010
I was intrigued by the title of this film. Copying Beethoven? Copying him how? I'm sure many have tried to copy his work, imitate his genius but as he himself said, "There can and will be thousands of princes, but there is only one Beethoven!" However it soon becomes clear in the film that 'copying' refers to a copyist, a scribe who copies out his musical scores for use of the maembers of the orchestra. Well every composer of the time used those. The copyist here though is a young woman, Anna who wishes to become a composer herself. Very unusual, and knowing Beethoven's character it is extremely unlikely he would have consented to work with a female copyist! Not only that, she presumes to 'correct' the great composer's work!!
You really have to suspend belief in order to make it through the whole of this fantasy LOOSELY based on the last year of Beethoven's life when he composed and premiered the glorious 9th Symphony. There are some scenes which are frankly cringe-making, such as the one wher he supposedly makes fun of a piece of music that Anna has written by pretending to break wind in time to it. Beethoven had a deep respect for women and would never have done such a thing. The other awful moment is when he asks Anna which of his Piano Sonatas is her favourite and when she hesitates announces, "Oh I know, the moonlight!" and bares his behind to her. Just terrible! For one thing Beethoven did not give Piano Sonata no 14 that title, it acquired that after his death, he himself called it 'Sonata in the manner of a Fantasia' and although he was certainly no saint and known to be rude and sometimes outrageously so, never would he have demeaned himself and insulted a female so.
So is there anything to redeem this film? Yes. There are some nice scenes, some funny scenes, some poignant ones, and the depiction of the premiere of the 9th Symphony is very well done even with the innaccuracies. (Beethoven is shown as conducting with Anna's help which he did not in fact do. By that time he was profoundly deaf and it would have been impossible.) However nothing can take away from the sheer beauty and power of the music, and there is a nice long excerpt.
To sum up, if you are a Beethoven fan, you will either hate it because of the innacuracies, or you will be prepared to put up with those to watch a film about the Maestro which gets some things right. If you're not particularly into Beethoven you will probably enjoy the story. Ed Harris's performance is very good.