November 10, 2006
Director: Agnieszka Holland
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for some sexual elements)
Screenwriters: Stephen J. Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson
Starring: Ed Harris, Diane Kruger, Matthew Goode, Ralph Riach, Bill Stewart, George Mendel, Joe Anderson, Angus Barnett, Nicholas Jones, Phyllida Law
Copyright Holder: N/A
Official website: CopyingBeethoven-themovie.com
Classical music aficionado or no, it's tough not to be moved by the soaring notes of Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The work stands as both a defining highpoint in the composer's career and a dynamic and beguiling legacy of its era. An imaginative exploration of Beethoven's life in his final days working on the Ninth, "Copying Beethoven" draws inspiration from the music itself. Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Agnieszka Holland, the film is both thrilling and romantic. It is 1824. The composer, played brilliantly by Ed Harris, is racing to finish his new symphony. However, it has been years since his last success and he is plagued by deafness, loneliness and personal trauma. A copyist is urgently needed to help the composer finish in time for the scheduled first performance - otherwise the orchestra will have no music to play. Insightful young conservatory student and aspiring composer Anna Holtz (Diane Kruger) is recommended for the position. The mercurial Beethoven is skeptical that a woman might become involved in his masterpiece but slowly comes to trust in Anna's assistance and in the end becomes quite fond of her. By the time the piece is performed - a moment in history captured in an exquisitely moving shot from Anna's perspective, as she sits on the orchestra floor helping the deaf Beethoven to keep time - her presence in his life is an absolute necessity. Her deep understanding of his work is such that she even corrects mistakes he has made, while her passionate personality opens a door into his proud, private world. Harris is no stranger to bringing iconic, larger-than-life figures to the screen; his lead performance in "Pollock" was a masterful exploration of a tormented but talented artist. He channels a similar esprit here: his Beethoven is ribald and volatile, vulnerable and, ultimately, endearing. He is matched in intensity and skill by Kruger, who makes the young Anna both an enraptured apprentice and a paragon of willful female independence and ambition. These two characters break down barrier after barrier, and the result is a harmonious wonder.