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Following the death of Ludwig Van Beethoven (Gary Oldman) in 1827, a mysterious letter is unearthed by his secretary Anton Felix Schindler (Jeroen Krabbe) that bequeaths his entire estate to his ĎImmortal Belovedí. Determined to see his last wish fulfilled, Schindler takes it upon himself to track down this one true love of Beethovenís life, but faces a seemingly impossible task due to the many women that had succumbed to Beethovenís charms throughout his days.

Review by Craig Miller:
While many may see this as just another attempt at re-telling the tragic story of the famed classical musician, Immortal Beloved is as much a story about the journey into the mind of a composer and his music, as it is the tale of his life. Told in a series of flashback sequences, director/writer Bernard Rose uses the effect well to delve into the life and mind of a man so desperate to live through music, that not even his deafness, ailing body and societal troubles could stop him.

Rose deserves credit for his vision, with a lot of care taken in crafting this film to get the feel of 19th Century Vienna just right (even though it was shot in Prague). Although at times there are notable attempts to gloss over certain aspects of Beethovenís story that do not sit well with his ideology, Rose has got the look of the movie just right, with the grand concert halls, scenic outdoor settings and costume and art direction fitting the bill wonderfully.

Perhaps just as important is the filmís musical score, superbly directed by famed British Conductor Sir George Solti, and used to deliver some extraordinarily touching scenes throughout the film, including the finale which sees Beethovenís Ode to Joy played over a series of the composerís childhood memories. Powerful stuff.

Despite the magnificent canvas, the end product may not have been as successful if it were not for the performances of the cast, which convinces more and more as the film progresses.

Oldman is, not surprisingly, his usual intense best, able to deliver more emotion and angst in a single glance than most can in a career - imperative when dealing with a character whose withdrawal into his own mind must have been tortuous as his deafness progressed. Likewise, Isabella Rossellini as the Countess Anna Marie Erdody and Valeria Golinoís Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, are delightful to watch, as Beethovenís two major love interests, who are compelled to love him even though it can never be fully reciprocated. 

While the idea of a journey into the life and mind of one of classical musicís greatest composers may not appeal to everyone, those who enjoy a great tragedy, love and the emotive power of music will be richly rewarded when experiencing Immortal Beloved, whether itís for the first or fifth time.

Published February 26, 2004

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(US/UK, 1994)

CAST: Gary Oldman, Jeroen Krabbe, Isabella Rossellini, Johanna ter Steege, Marco Hofschneider, Miriam Margolyes, Valeria Golino, Barry Humphries

DIRECTOR: Bernard Rose

SCRIPT: Bernard Rose

RUNNING TIME: 116 minutes

PRESENTATION: 2.35:1 widescreen 16:9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Theatrical trailer

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Village Roadshow

DVD RELEASE: February 11, 2004

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