Copying Beethoven (2006)

Reviewer: Rissi C.


I have loved music ever since I can remember. Because of that I was interested in this film about the great Ludwig Van Beethoven. It fell short of my expectations. This film tells the story of Beethoven's fictional relationship with a young music student by the name of Anna Holtz and the impact she had on his life. The opening scene has a woman coming to a dying mans side; she is Anna Holtz and the man is Beethoven. We then go back in time to see how they met and the development of their friendship. 


Venice, 1824. Young Anna (Diane Kruger) is a music student who is an aspiring composer. When Anna's professor hears of a position of copyist for Beethoven, he sends Anna, as she is his best student. Delivering something to Beethoven's current copyist who is dying, she is told that she cant do the job because she is a woman. But she ends up helping the man when Beethoven comes and yells at him for a mistake that was made. Taking the corrected papers to Beethoven's apartment, Anna ends up getting the job after showing him her work and how she made a change she anticipated he would have made. As Anna begins her work, she has hopes of someday becoming as good as her mentor and is anxious to show him her progress. When cleaning Beethoven's apartment Anna meets the nephew Karl (Joe Anderson) Beethoven is always talking of. Karl is a gambler with several debts hanging over him, something his uncle is only too happy to help him with. 


Beethoven has the aspiration that someday Karl will be a great pianist as well. After meeting Karl, Beethoven asks Anna what she thought of him and she tries to tell him how Karl feels, but he doesn't want to believe her. Beethoven eventually has no choice but to rely on Anna and her ability to copy music. While some people thought of Beethoven as a madman and others as a man who cant conduct any longer, Anna begins to see him for what he really is, a man with a brilliant mind. This didn't fall short of my expectations because it was filled with negative things, more because I felt something was missing in the story. First you fell a little like you are starting in the middle instead of the beginning. It then took me about fifteen or twenty minutes before I really got into the film and began to enjoy it. There are several scenes that have Beethoven composing his music in his mind and you feel like saying, "Okay, lets move on." But in retrospect, I feel it was important to show you the power of his music to him and what it means to him.  Since he was deaf, it was very difficult for him to hear the music, so he had "feel" of it.


Despite the more disappointing plotline, I did enjoy the historical details. It fascinated me to see how the music was copied, to watch Anna cut the pen, and use old-fashioned ink to write. There were two scenes in particular that I loved. The first came when Anna goes to see her young man Martin (Matthew Goode) at his office; I loved the camera angle used when they are embracing, and with her skirts billowing out, it was a stunning shot. The whole scene was very sweet even if the end to their story was a little unhappy. The other comes when Anna has to help Beethoven at his symphony because he cannot hear the music. While it is another scene that you may feel was a little too long, I loved the sequence and enjoyed hearing some familiar songs. The performances, costumes and music were stunning in this film, which makes it a little more worthwhile for those of us that love period dramas. Diane Kruger was just as great in this role, although very different than in National Treasure.


There isn't a lot of negative content, but none of it added anything to this story. While cleaning the apartment, Anna lifts her skirt to pull something off and Karl comes up and tells her to lift it a little higher. He then grabs at her and implies that she must be his uncles latest fling, saying that none of them has been as pretty as [you] though." When Anna slaps him and gets away, he apologizes. A man climbs the wall of a convent in order to find his girlfriend and says there is some very attractive woman living there. Beethoven undresses from the waist up twice in Anna's presence, once asking Anna to wash him. He also moons her. Beethoven twice goes into a rage, but they are short. Surprisingly, there is a lot of talk about God. Anna credits Him for the gift of music. Once she questions it after her song was mocked. Beethoven asks why has God given him this gift, only to deprive him of the pleasure of hearing his work. 


While this wasn't what I thought it has some good points and if you are a lover of classical music this is for you, as many of the songs are his most famous. If you can get past the slow moving scenes, this is a well written story with some fictional things about Beethoven's life. Unfortunately, it doesn't have a true ending. I wont even say that it was incomplete, because there just isn't one. That was my main complaint, that I felt it needed to have a little more told. The he final scene is not how I expected it to end. Still, this will probably be a film that I will watch again, as its the type of drama that you almost need to view more than once, but nevertheless it could have been better.

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