Beethoven: Eroica - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Beethoven: Eroica Reviews

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February 3, 2013
This is not a movie chiefly concerned with music, rather its chiefly concerned with the imperative of enlightenment and progress in a time like this; it's a historical movie. The characters, some painfully tragic at first (the satisfied "land-owing sort of men) and others (the mere women) were liberal(in that time liberal meant something different) and honest. Beethoven was acted brilliantly: I did not doubt for a second that he was the irritable, bipolar genius we all knew him to be. He really makes for a great character in movies because of exactly how taut he holds those strings in the social fabric, sort to speak. The best musical piece ever made; it was performed better than I have ever heard it before, includingi the london symphony orchestra's version. As soon as mainstream makes a Beethoven movie - mark my words - there will be no more musicals winning academy awards.
July 10, 2012
Excellent film. Must see. Great interpretation too.
½ December 27, 2011
Most likely only classical music lovers will like this movie
Super Reviewer
March 19, 2011
This film overlays a performance of Beethoven's 3rd symphony with a bit of imaginative history of what the very first performance of this symphony might have been like. Hard to get away with a movie with no plot, no special effects, and almost no characters, scenery or dialogue. Yet this movie does just that based on its soundtrack, and the artful use of close-up shots that display the emotion one of Beethoven's masterpieces brings to its listeners. An homage to one of the greatest revolutions in music.
February 20, 2011
Really loved it. Thought that Ian Hart was a great choice for Beethoven in his early 30's when he could still hear fairly well and had yet to completely take the world by storm. Immortal Beloved's Gary Oldman did a good job of Beethoven, but I complained that he was too grim, dour and brooding and seemed to be ignorant of Beethoven's more boisterous nature which is well documented in several of his biographies that I've read. Hart seems to be more dialed into Beethoven as an eccentric, but lively and often humorous genius with a hair trigger temper, and also his affinity to commoners and his disdain and lack of respect for the nobility is fully revealed. The Eroica, Beethoven's 3rd, is rendered in a way that will make you further appreciate this masterwork that as Hadyn prophesied had changed everything. Those who don't fancy great classical music will prolly be bored to death, but that's the breaks. I know I'll watch it again and again.
½ January 6, 2011
If you are at all into classical music this is incredibly moving and entertaining. Actually, it might even be a good way to increase your appreciation if you're not that into Beethoven but would like to have a better idea of what all the fuss is about. The acting is great, and the music brought me close to tears at points...
July 21, 2010
Really enjoyed this investigation of the young genius as he gives a public rehearsal of his work, dedicated at first to Napoleon, before discovering the true nature of his hero & the emotions of his jilted love & on going deafness, sensitively shown here. The bonus extra of hearing this fine music separately w/out the drama is an added pleasure.
February 25, 2009
A rather odd mixture of Beethoven biopic and concert film featuring a complete performance of the Eroica by the Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique. But it's really good -- both the performance and the acting. My kids are a bit too young to have had their attention held by it, though they enjoyed seeing/hearing the stuff they already knew about (the last movement and Beethoven destroying the title page). I think it'd be really good for older kids who like Beethoven, however many of those there are.
July 23, 2008
When I was a child, I studied music theory at camp every summer, that in addition to learning bits of it over the school year. Well--that's one of the things they teach young musicians. Most grade school music classrooms of my experience include large posters of the major composers of the various eras of musical history. You know, Bach for the Baroque and so forth. And what was always drilled into our heads was that Ludwig van Beethoven was a member of two eras. He was both Classical and Romantic. I suppose many of us assumed that it was because of when he lived. I don't think it was generally explained that he [i]created[/i] the Romantic era, that it is, by many, considered to date from the first performance of this, his Third Symphony, the Eroica.

This is not about the first performance. This is about the first rehearsal, arguably a better landmark. Beethoven (Ian Hart) is showing his completed work to various of his noble patrons, including Prince Franz Joseph Maximillian Lobkowiz (Jack Davenport) and his wife (Fenella Woolgar). The prince has gathered an orchestra according to Beethoven's specifications, and this is to be a demonstration of the piece as much as a rehearsal.

Of course, that's horrible, musically. I've sight-read music in my time, and generally, the orchestra muddles through. However, when I did it--when we as a group did it--there were all sorts of mangled notes and horrible foulings of the rhythm--and the music we played through was always [i]far[/i] simpler than the Eroica. Generally, when a group is called upon to play a work for the first time, there is much starting and stopping, much going back over various phrases. About the only times I've ever played a work all the way through the way this orchestra is shown to do is when that was what the competition required. What's more, the music we played was not as revolutionary as the Eroica would have been to these men. Beethoven would have [i]expected[/i] uncertainty, even complete breaking down.

Oh, there's other plot to this story--Beethoven's proposal to Josephine Deym nee Brunsvik (Claire Skinner), for example. The appearance of Haydn (Frank Finlay). And, always, the discussion of Napoleon. The discussion among the musicians and how it differs from the discussion among the nobles. Beethoven's belief that Napoleon will be a saviour of the poor, an inspiration to the masses. In 1803, it was still possible for Beethoven to believe that.

This is not a conventional story. In place of dialogue, for most of the film, we have music--but what music! I think perhaps you must have a certain amount of musical training to understand how revolutionary this piece is. I don't know if the average person can get it from just comparing Mozart, or even the earlier Beethoven, to the Eroica. However, as Haydn himself observed, music was never to be the same again.
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