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Movie Review: Copying Beethoven

Alternate Title: Ode to Mediocrity

Story: Genius is very hard to depict through the medium of film. We have seen many films about art and artists and they tend to fall short of expectations. Just why is that you might ask? I don't really know except that visual artists, poets. musicians, and writers do make interesting stories so screenwriters keep trying.

Sadly, this film falls flat on its face. Ludwig van Beethoven's story is fascinating. How he managed to compose while deaf has made for great tales but not this time. Director Agniezka Holland (Europa, Europa, Secret Garden) delivers a resounding awful film. Screenwriters Stephen Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson take some of the blame as well.

They devise a fictional tale around Beethoven's need of a copyist for his music. The copyist is a young woman who manages to worm her way into his good (or bad) graces. The story is unbelievable, the dialogue stilted, the language not appropriate to the time period, the acting is scenery chewing at times and generally it was an eye-rolling experience.

However, there is one 15 minute passage, where there is no dialogue, just the sound of music. Beethoven conducts his Ninth Symphony in public for the first time, with the help of his copyist to keep the beat. The camera work, the passion and the body language are all there. It was a fleeting part of the film - but it was glorious.

Check out the many times you might have heard Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in popular culture here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beethoven's_Ninth_Symphony_in_popular_culture

Acting: Bad. Ed Harris as Beethoven was wrong. He is too 20th century to play this role. His ripping pecs were not believable. I doubt if Beethoven worked out. Diane Kruger as the copyist was weak.

Predilection: None

Critters: Cats, rats and roaches.

Food: Trout and some other gruel

Soundtrack: Glorious

Opening Titles: A visually exciting beginning graphically.

Theater Audience: Eight men and us.

Weather: The weather was good in 19th century Vienna.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: I squirmed at how bad the film was.

Drift Factor: Lots and lots of drifting and watch checking.

Predictability Level: I did not care.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Check out Gary Oldham as Beethoven, in the 1994, Immortal Beloved.

Length: Too long at 100 minutes.