Copying Beethoven, (Klang der Stille)

Critics Consensus

A pretentious historical drama that's ultimately a drag, despite Ed Harris' powerful performance.



Total Count: 81


Audience Score

User Ratings: 14,197
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Movie Info

When a young Vienna Music Conservatory student and aspiring composer accepts a job as a copyist for Ludwig von Beethoven, she soon finds her destiny forever interlinked with that of the legendary classical musician in director Agnieszka Holland's romantic period drama. Beethoven (Ed Harris)'s "Ninth Symphony" is about to make its historical debut, but Beethoven's publisher Herr Schlemmer is dying of cancer. Now in desperate need of a copyist to complete the score, the ailing Schlemmer enlists the aid of ambitious student Anna Holz (Diane Kruger); who readily accepts the job despite an explicit warning that the composer is a callous wretch. As Anna begins the arduous process of copying Beethoven's career-defining work, her soul-stirring kindness causes the composer to view their collaboration as a blessing that will enable him to produce some of the most sublime music ever created. When Anna works up the courage to show Beethoven some of her own work, however, his thoughtless derision of the composition causes his sensitive assistant to abandon their current collaboration. Subsequently determined to flee Vienna and marry her devoted paramour Martin, Anna is quickly tracked down by Beethoven and forced to choose between love and duty. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Ed Harris
as Ludwig Van Beethoven
Diane Kruger
as Anna Holtz
Matthew Goode
as Martin Bauer
Nicholas Jones
as Archduke Rudolph
Ralph Riach
as Wenzel Schlemmer
Joe Anderson (VI)
as Karl van Beethoven
Phyllida Law
as Mother Canisius
Matyelok Gibbs
as Old Woman
David Kennedy
as Neighbor
Gábor Bohus
as Schuppanzigh
Karl Johnson
as Stefan Holtz
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Critic Reviews for Copying Beethoven, (Klang der Stille)

All Critics (81) | Top Critics (31)

  • You can mock this film if you like, but it remains watchable throughout. And the ears have it when the eyes don't.

    Aug 17, 2007 | Rating: 3/5
  • A fatuous, bafflingly imagined tale of the unhappy and unwell Beethoven and his ordeal in preparing the Ninth Symphony for its premiere.

    Aug 17, 2007 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • Diane Kruger is the most appealing scenery in this rose-tinted nonsense.

    Aug 17, 2007 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • The direction from Polish New Waver Agnieszka Holland feels more like she's testing a new camera than attempting to capture the nuances of the artistic process, and if we're to believe the script, then all great art derives 'from the gut'.

    Aug 17, 2007 | Rating: 2/6 | Full Review…

    David Jenkins

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • A great soundtrack is drowned out by a lot of tedious harping on.

    Aug 14, 2007 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Beethoven turns out to be like every obnoxious self-absorbed creative type you've ever met

    Jun 13, 2007

Audience Reviews for Copying Beethoven, (Klang der Stille)

  • Jan 29, 2013
    Rote mentor-muse drama, like Finding Forrester in period dress.
    William G Super Reviewer
  • Jan 29, 2013
    Ed Harris does the unimaginable to save this film. I believe Agnieszka Holland was intelligent to have chosen to develop only so much of Beethoven's life, instead of stuffing it all into one film (she chose the time during which he premiered the Ninth Symphony); still, the film has some very serious flaws: Diane Kruger as a feminist aspiring composer who works as Beethoven's unlikely copyist: miscast. Dizzying "experimental" hand-held camera work. Rather superficial, anachronical storyline... the script does have a few clever moments, though, some phrases Beethoven delivers are wonderful, but the rest pretty much fall into cliché. What is most angering is that it could have functioned perfectly: a great lead actor, much greater source material, spot-on period art direction... and yet again, the fault is of the substance. It's a real shame. The writers came up with a blatantly fictionalized account of the composer's later days, in which he becomes emotionally involved -more like emotionally connected- with a promising composer who becomes his copyist and then his nurse, cleaning lady, and friend. We all know about other fictionalized biopics like Amadeus, films that distort the truth. The thing is that Amadeus made me swallow its story, shoved it down my throat and got me involved: what it showed, I considered it as true as anything else on celluloid. CB seems unsure... it's just so obvious that it's false! And that's not good. If they don't buy it, how could I? It's hard to explain. I believed every word Ed Harris spoke in the same way I'm sure a lot of people felt involved with F. Murray Abraham in Milos Forman's film. But all the other characters, just... the situations, everything, seemed so made of cardboard, so... fictional. It's hard to explain. I don't mean Copying Beethoven is unwatchable, there is one particular scene in which it's all about the music... it plays rather like a music video, but it's fantastic, epic, and one can only wish that the rest of the film was that good. It's an inspired, electrifying ode to the symphony itself... and all I could really think about as I watched it was Alex De Large on his bed, and the snake by his side, and his face... Lovely lovely Ludwig Van! lol. Unfortunately, it seems to me that the film suffered a great deal from having such an exciting scene right in the middle of it, because the dull parts that came later looked even worse. If only they could cut that scene out and market it as a short film... they would have received much better reviews, and they would have said all they appeared to want to say.
    Elvira B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 29, 2013
    ed harris as beethoven was unique, and diane krueger redeemed herself in my eyes (in troy she was a bit boring) with her acting in this film.
  • Jan 29, 2013
    I was lucky enough to watch this movie way back in the summer (it just recently became available for review on Flixster.) The cut I saw was allegedly a "rough-cut" that would require some more editing and tinkering-with (depending on audience input and feedback.) I must say, though, that the version we all saw way back in June seemed very much complete and painted a splendid picture of a film that was well-developed, cast and directed. Ed Harris gave a brilliant performance as the troubled composer. The film may be seen as rehash (how many Beethoven films can there be?, etc.), but Harris' performance alone is what solidifies this movie as and makes it stand out from, say, Immortal Beloved; in which Gary Oldham's portrayal was a bit more off-putting and creepy. Diane Kruger also gives a noteworthy performance as Beethoven's composing assistant. She brings a resilience to a character that shouldn't even exist, given the sexist divisions and gender role issues that existed in that era. The film is shot beautifully and its cinematography is brilliant. The art direction gushes with lush sets and decor and the score is very much appropriate for a movie in which a score should not overpower the music that its subject matter is directly dealing with (in this case Beethoven's own compositions.) Ed Harris definitely deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Actor (although it probably won't happen.) Definitely catch it if you can. It's worth searching for it.
    Rico Z Super Reviewer

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