Copying Beethoven

I was lucky enough to score some tickets to an advance promotion of Copying Beethoven from Washington’s Classical Station, WGMS. It opens this Friday. I was pretty excited. It was in the very nice E-street Landmark theater in downtown DC. Apparently, they had given away hundreds of tickets, but no more than 30 people show up. It’s a week night, but that seemed pretty low.

The movie tells a fictional account of the last few years of his life through the eyes of a young, female music copyist. The plot is fiction, but the insights into his mind and passion for music are the heart and soul of the movie; and these, I believe, are not that far off the mark. I am not an expert on his biography, but I have read a volume of his letters and the man in those was certainly portrayed in this movie: prone to a fiery temper and bouts of rashness, but then kinder, sadder, yet always passionate. This constant fluctuation of moods was appropriate and definitely inspired a sympathetic understanding.

I very much enjoyed the discussions of music, inspiration, God, and his family (in the form of his nephew): they also confirmed the sentiments I gleaned from his letters. The fact that Beethoven was a bridge between classical and romantic music is not-so-subtly represented, especially in one amusing scene.

The highlight of the movie, however, is the premier of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Obviously, the entire Symphony could not be represented in the movie, but significant portions of each movement are played with great dramatic effect. The camera movements brought you directly into the orchestra with him, the musicians, and the choir. After this, the movie slowly winds to a close, somewhat anti-climactically, but this was probably accurate in real life as well.

Ed Harris does a wonderful job–I wasn’t sure I would get used to him, but after a while I forgot about the actor and just saw Beethoven. Diane Kruger also does a wonderful job in her fictional role.

7/10. If you truly appreciate Beethoven, you will love this movie.