Immortal Beloved [DVD]
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Gary Oldman stars as Ludwig van Beethoven in this biopic of the great composer. At the reading of his will, it is revealed that Beethoven has left all his worldly goods to a mystery female benefactor, who he names as 'my immortal beloved'. Anton Schindler (Jeroen Krabbe) goes in search of the unknown woman, uncovering a number of secrets about the musician's past. Directed by Bernard Rose.
This sumptuous and moving 1994 film written and directed by Bernard Rose (Candyman) investigates the artistic and romantic passions of one of the greatest composers of all time. Featuring a superb performance by Gary Oldman (Sid and Nancy) as Ludwig van Beethoven, Immortal Beloved is full of uncommonly vivid, rich imagery as it charts the tumultuous life of the deaf child prodigy and his rise to the height of musical achievement. Along the way, he attempts to play mentor to his nephew, attend to his many passionate romances--the most stable one was with a countess (Isabella Rossellini)--and fight bouts of depression and madness that ruled his life and his art. The film is framed around a "Rosebud"-type letter found after the composer's death that makes up the crux of the story. Jeroen Krabbé (The Fugitive), playing Beethoven's lifelong friend, attempts to discover who Beethoven's muse really was, becoming as driven as his friend in discovering the unlikely identity of the composer's "immortal beloved." Through this we gain an insight into the nature of obsession, romance, and the heights and sacrifices of artistic achievement. The film exhibits some extraordinary sound design, and the finale features a magical encapsulation of Beethoven's life and loves set to his "Ode to Joy." As an exciting and passionate journey, Immortal Beloved is its own masterpiece. --Robert Lane --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
However, get over the need for absolute historical accuracy; what this movie's really about is providing a hugely enjoyable feast for the senses. Gary Oldman is superb. Whoever decided to cast this seemingly unlikely choice for the lead role deserves an award for inspiration bordering on genius. The metamorphosis Oldman achieves is little short of miraculous, a grand statement to the high art of character acting. It's clear that our man has researched his role with an absolute determination to capture the great composer's persona. Thank you Mr Oldman, for what it's worth you've earned this punter's total respect and I'm sure there'll be literally millions more like me. No doubt some of the more academic types will scoff at my sentiments but I think they are missing the point. This is an extremely beautiful film, hugely enjoyable and will doubtless encourage many encountering Beethoven for the first-time to investigate further, itself a great thing.
The setting & atmosphere for the gradually-decaying early 19th century Hapsburg Empire are finely depicted & evocative, and in particular the use of light - both natural & artificial, shows exceptional skill. This is a work of craftmanship by a team who obviously knew what they were doing and worked hard at getting things right.
To sum up, this isn't history, but make no mistake, as a piece of entertainment it's a classic. . The final evocation of Beethoven's spirit set to the Ode to Joy captures this great genius's monumental legacy... hope, a gift for all mankind.
There is so much that is wrong with this film - for example, its historical inaccuracies; the lack of consistency in accents; and the use of hilly Prague to portray flat Vienna. Watching this film I was often confronted with the crass, the artless, the preposterous, the embarrassing, and the laughable. We have comedy with Barry Humphries as Metternich, Dame Edna Everage struggling to emerge from within his breast. We have naff lines such as Schindler's "It was that damned sonata" on the day that he met Beethoven. And yet, and yet ...
The film is colourful and imaginative, Beethoven's deafness is convincingly conveyed, and the sub-story of the composer's relationship with his nephew is well-told. Perhaps the idea was to replicate the success of "Amadeus" for Beethoven with a high-quality costume-drama. Bernard Rose says that he used the story of seeking Beethoven's "immortal beloved" as an excuse to show the more private and difficult sides of the composer.
Jeroen Krabbe (originally marked down as to play Beethoven) is good as the composer's amanuensis Schindler; equally good is Johanna Ter Steege as the subject of the title. But Gary Oldman is mesmerising as the man himself; his eyes, his hair, his lips, all seem so perfect for the role.Read more ›
The score is wonderful (all Beethoven's) with the individual pieces being very well selected. His music runs through each scene in so seamless and graceful a way that, after watching it just once or twice, you will always associate the music with certain scenes and images. "Emperor" will always make me think of Johanna Reiss opening the famous 'Immortal Beloved' letter through which Beethoven finally pours out all of his most honest and most romantic feelings. "Emperor", as you may or may not know, is the snappy name for Ludwig's chart-topping hit of the times, (deep breath here) "Adagio un poco moto - III. Rondo. Allegro (excerpt) from Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op.73".
There are many scenes that are very touching and sweet, others that reveal Beethoven as a bully. So a complicated man, then.
I should probably add that this film must be taken at face value, with a pinch or two of salt and an open mind. Because, as I'm sure other reviewers must have mentioned, it is based on the viewpoint of Beethoven's apparent friend, one Dr.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a fan of Beethoven and classical music, I was interested to see this film and it's depiction of parts of his life. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Sean
this is a fantastic movie! I was reluctant in the begining to watch it but was completely unexpected in a good way! I recommend this to every music lover!Published 3 months ago by luizav
Amazing dvd got to be one film that is a must watch film very happyPublished 4 months ago by Michelle hall
This is a goodish film, nearly dragged out of the ordinary by the performance of Mr Oldman... but not quite. Read morePublished 8 months ago by J. Mclaughlin