Movies: Immortal Beloved

Somehow I never saw this movie, probably because it came out in 1994 and I had a lot going on in my world at that time. Not a lot of time for movies (though I do recall seeing Stargate and Interview with the Vampire).

Anyway, I decided it was time to rectify this oversight. There are a lot of newer movies I could have stopped to watch, and in twenty years I'll probably be saying to myself, I should get around to watching that, but for tonight it was Immortal Beloved's turn.

I don't know much about Beethoven, or I didn't going in at least. I knew he was a composer, and I knew he'd gone deaf. And I knew he had at least one brother, and a nephew that he thought (perhaps had reason to believe) was his son. That was the sum total of my knowledge of Beethoven. Well, except I knew he'd written two of my favorite pieces of music: "Moonlight Sonata" and "Ode to Joy."

Oh, and I'd heard or read somewhere that there was a lingering mystery around a letter Beethoven had written to his "Immortal Beloved."

I'm a romantic at heart, so the idea of this love story of the ages appealed to me. And the movie was a good one. Slower in pace by today's standards, but the frame story keeps it from dragging too much by allowing things to jump around a bit. As if to say, "Get to the good parts."

The moment that made me realize the filmmaker had done his job well was the moment I found myself saying, "That's really sad." Because it's one thing to know in a textbook kind of way that Beethoven was deaf. (And I grew up with that Monty Python skit as a primary source of Beethoven info, you know, the one with the mynah bird. Funny. But hardly pathos inspiring.) But in the scene in which Beethoven asks Erdödy to "write it, please"—those three words, the intonation and delivery, it really struck me how terrible it must have been for him to have lost his hearing.

Less inspiring were the actual romances, which somehow fell flat with me. I didn't feel the passion as much there, though I don't know if that's because of the script or the acting or directing . . . The stuff between Beethoven and his nephew carried more emotional weight.

Anyway, though it failed to spark the romantic in me, I can now mark this one off my "meant to see" list.

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