Not even Ed Harris can save this poorly composed period pic

Ed Harris as Beethoven? A strange casting choice, especially if you recall how Gary Oldman embodied the maestro in Immortal Beloved. But as Jackson Pollock, Harris did bring to life a tormented artist. Give the man a large metal ear trumpet, fright wig, and piano, and maybe it's not such crazy casting after all.

Like Immortal Beloved, Copying Beethoven refrains from making the great composer its actual protagonist, viewing him instead through the eyes of someone close to him. Here, our guide through Ludwig's world is Anna (Diane Kruger, previously the Helen of Wolfgang Peterson's Troy), whom we first see rushing to Beethoven's deathbed, the world outside her carriage a series of quick cuts perfectly timed to the symphony in her head.

Anna, a student at the Vienna music conservatory, works as a copyist for Beethoven, who turns out to be like every obnoxious self-absorbed creative type you've ever met: an egomaniac.


Copying Beethoven
Directed by Agnieszka Holland
Opens November 10

Director Agnieszka Holland (Europa, Europa) doesn't drape the story in finery. This Vienna is rainy, dirty, rat-infested, and full of piss pots. Beethoven throws his possessions all about the place, firing his maids and relishing in rodents because, he says, they scare away the cats. This filth makes for a grand contrast when Beethoven finally debuts the Ninth Symphony in an opulent concert hall, insisting on conducting even though he can't hear the orchestra. This is the film's climax, and a spectacular one even if you're not much of a classical-music fan. Beethoven was, after all, the rock star of his time.

Unfortunately, this climax occurs in the middle of the film, and nothing much happens afterward—a major structural misstep. Instead of sending us out on the concert's high, screenwriters Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson, best known for the two ponderous biopics Ali and Nixon, deliver a film awkwardly composed.

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For the most part, that I can gather from your review, it seems you did actually watch the movie.  But then you made the mistake of commenting on that which you did not grasp.  Beethoven had experienced the zenith of what his composing innovation would be held in regard with that debut, but what followed (though viewed as folly)  (did you even catch that cancer-guy played a piece he didn't understand that was obviously the birth of boogie-woogie and a thousand rock riffs that today makes thousands of musicians millions of dollars?  No, of course not.  And to be rejected in his time for what he would later and forever be hallmarked for . . . proved that he knew there would eventually be individuals of greater acumen than those he shared but a time and space on this planet with - in other words - people who would get it - 'get him'.  Clearly you don't . . . and the rest of us hope and pray that someday by some miracle you will - so you may also experience the realization of the dream that was frozen in time for all of us to relish centuries before it was even possible.  Beethoven was a bastardly beast who unleashed the fury and beauty of the soul of man and the universe at large upon itself in such a way that it could not be ignored - but rather he forced its existence to be examined, absorbed, and exhumed whenever creativity deemed it necessary to bury itself.  (might not be a bad idea for you, though . . .) 


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