Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Copying Beethoven

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
6 out of 10
Extras Rating:
7 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: PG-13

Starring:
Diane Kruger as Anna Holtz
Ralph Riach as Wenzel Schlemmer
Ed Harris as Ludwig van Beethoven
Bill Stewart as Rudy
Angus Barnett as Krenski
Viktoria Dihen as Magda
Phyllida Law as Mother Canisius
Matthew Goode as Martin Bauer
Gábor Bohus as Schuppanzigh
Joe Anderson as Karl van Beethoven
David Kennedy as Neighbor
Nicholas Jones as Archduke Rudolph
Karl Johnson as Stefan Holtz
László Áron as Judge

Special Features:
Orchestrating "Copying Beethoven" Featurette
Feature commentary by Director Agnieszka Holland and Actor Ed Harris
Deleted scenes with optional commentary by Director Agnieszka Holland and Ed Harris

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish Language
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 104 Minutes

Synopsis:
The following is from the DVD cover:

"When young Anna Holz (Diane Kruger), a Viennese music student is asked to transcribe scoring notes for the great Ludwig van Beethoven (Harris), she eagerly accepts, despite warnings about his volatile behavior. Part maestro, part mentor and part madman, Beethoven reluctantly relies on Anna to help him realize the crowning achievement of a lifetime – his illustrious Ninth Symphony."

"Copying Beethoven" is rated PG-13 for some sexual elements.

The Movie:
I was very intrigued by the premise of "Copying Beethoven." The idea of a woman coming along and interpreting Beethoven's music for the world was very interesting. I was a bit disappointed to find out that the character of Anna Holz was fictional. This ended taking a lot of my enjoyment out of the film. It seems to go from celebrating Beethoven to doing a disservice to the real man.

The movie had a number of other problems, too. I didn't particularly care for the directing. There are bizarre moments where the camera zips in and out for no apparent reason. It comes across as a bit schizophrenic. The relationship between Anna and Beethoven also gets progressively weirder and weirder. Anna goes from a student of Beethoven to a colleague to a sort of lover to a caretaker. It gets even stranger when Beethoven has Anna give him a sponge bath. This is all in sharp contrast to what is arguably the highlight of the entire film – Beethoven's debut of the 9th Symphony. In this scene we not only have the beautiful music but a great moment where Anna aids Beethoven in directing the symphony. Because he is mostly deaf, he relies on her to help him catch the musical cues. It's hypnotic watching Anna direct him through the key moments of the music. The scene is beautifully set up and the costumes and sets are stunning.

Despite my problems with this film, I did think it had some strong performances. Ed Harris delivers one of his most unique performances ever as Ludwig van Beethoven. He really captures the mad genius of the man. He's both revered and despised by the people around him. Harris makes it all perfectly believable. Diane Kruger also does a good job as Anna Holtz. Again, her scene directing the 9th Symphony is beautifully done and the high point of the film.

The Extras:
There are only three extras on this DVD. You'll find a 10 minute 'making of' featurette entitled 'Orchestrating Copying Beethoven'. It highlights the 9th Symphony scene as well as the rest of Beethoven's music in the film. Ed Harris also talks about what it's like to direct the orchestra. There are also three deleted scenes. One features Anna arguing with her fiancée about working with Beethoven. Another shows Anna's father arriving in town to give her some money. Finally, there's another scene where Anna and Martin argue about her working with Beethoven. Rounding out the bonus features is a feature commentary by Director Agnieszka Holland and Actor Ed Harris.

The Bottom Line:
If you're a fan of Beethoven or Ed Harris, "Copying Beethoven" is probably required viewing for you. You certainly can't go wrong with the soundtrack on this one.

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