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Movie Marathon Idea: Classical Cads

December 8, 2011

They had swagger and substance to spare.  They moved and mesmerized with their ability to make music immortal and tangible.  They rocked the 18th century mullet and made the flamingo pink wig look cool.  They were mad, bad and utterly dangerous to know. This week, we host a marathon devoted to the cads of classical music (one of whom inspired Falco to write the best 80s song of all time, “Rock Me Amadeus”).

1.) Immortal Beloved (1994)

Gary Oldman inhabits the brain and heart of moody genius Ludwig von Beethoven in this classic tale of love and madness.  The story focuses on Beethoven’s mysterious “immortal beloved” – the still unidentified woman to whom Beethoven wrote some of the most moving and heartbreaking letters of eternal devotion.  Director Bernard Rose’s film presents three candidates for the title of “Immortal Beloved”:  the eccentric Italian countess Guilietta Guiciarrdi (Valeria Golino), Hungarian noble Anna-Marie Erdody (Isabella Rosselini) and Beethoven’s own sister-in-law, Johanna Reiss (Johanna ter Steege).  The film presents Beethoven as a man obsessed with the idea of his lost happiness, steering him into insanity and cruelty.   All his life and what could have been hinges on a mere moment that is missed, and then gone forever. The soundtrack is lush with Beethoven’s greatest hits, including a visually stunning end scene that features the fabulous 9th Symphony (Ode to Joy).

2.) Amadeus (1984)

Based on the play by Peter Shaffer, Milos Forman’s film follows the rise and fall of the boy prodigy known as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  Told through the eyes of his greatest admirer and greatest enemy, the scheming Salieri, Amadeus is an engrossing look at the life of a brilliant man who just wasn’t equipped to deal with reality.  F. Murray Abraham’s performance as the jealous but wise Salieri wistfully wonders how such musical epiphanies, such music sent from God himself,  could come from such an ungrateful and uncouth child.   It is a tour-de-force of visual and auditory delights.

3.) Impromptu – (1991)

Although told mostly through the eyes of scandalous author George Sand, Impromptu tells of a mismatched love that triumphs over misunderstanding and mayhem to become as moving and interesting as the music itself.  Impromptu is a comedic and romantic slice of heaven that tells the tale of the strange love between flamboyant, cross-dressing French author George Sand and the sickly, angelic Hungarian composer Frederic Chopin.  In Sand’s strength, Chopin finds both comfort and inspiration, while she in turn learns of faith, loyalty and the strength of femininity. Featuring nuanced performances by Judy Davis as Sand and a baby-faced Hugh Grant as Chopin, the film presents a sun-washed, idyllic look at the lives of artists who are forced to perform for their noble betters to earn their keep in the lovely countryside of France.

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