There are not many movies on the subject of classical music. Most of them are documentaries about the great composers, but very few about musicians and orchestras. Anyhow, there are enough for me to write this blog post.
Un Coeur en Hiver (1992, Claude Sautet)
This movie introduced me to the beautiful music of Ravel. And also to an intriguing story of passion vs. indifference. Camille is a violin player, married to a guy that she apparenty lost interest in. Their relationship lost its flame and Camille turns her attention to a violin crafter, her husband’s friend, but he’s unresponsive of her feelings. Unrequited love is fun, right?
This is a woman’s try to transpose the virtuosity of her playing into her everyday life. She wants to feel passion again, the intensity of a new love. Is she going to realise that she’s married though? Idk, check it out.
La Pianiste (2001, Michael Haneke)
Before watching the movie I’ve read the book. I must say, the adaptation is pretty good.
This movie is about a middle aged piano techer whose life is controlled by her mother. She wears only plain, boring clothes, she’s not wearing make-up, she has to be home at a certain hour. And, of course, she’s sexually frustrated.
Walter is a young charming musician. He falls in love, or so he thinks, with this misterious, frivolous teacher, so he tries his best to spark her interest. At some point he plays one of my favorite Rachmaninoff pieces, that you can listen to here.
The story takes a 50 Shades of Grey turn when we find out that the piano teacher has some masochistic inclinations. It’s quite fascinating, to be honest. Because of her controlling mother she represses her sexuallity, only to have it burst in a very agressive way. Poor Walter.
Amadeus (1984, Milos Forman)
Of course I can’t write this blog post without including Amadeus, an eight time Oscar winner. In one word, this movie is beautiful. As you may have guessed, this is based on the life and works of Mozart. The story is narrated by his supposed rival, Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham).
This is a glimpse of the era that Mozart lived in. The important stuff is here. The relationship with his father, the relationship with his wife, Constanze, his childish chaotic approach to life. Also, another important aspect, how hard it was for composers to make money at that time. I actually have a feeling that it still is.
I also recommend you watch the documentary In Search of Mozart(2006). There are a lot of cool things you can find out. For example, at age 5, Mozart could play pieces that were supposed to be techically impossible for the bone structure of 5 year old. Awesome, right? I wasn’t even able to finish a puzzle when I was 5.
The Legend of 1900 (1998, Giuseppe Tornatore)
This is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. There are scenes that still don’t cease to blow my mind. Everytime I watch this I go wow.
The story is about a guy (the glorious Tim Roth) that grows up on a cruise ship and teaches himself how to play the piano. He creates a strong attachement to the ship and to the piano and he can’t concieve living in an actual house.
One of my favorite quotes ever:
But there wasn’t an end. What I couldn’t see was where all that came to an end. The end of the world. Take a piano. The keys begin, the keys end. You know there are 88 of them and no-one can tell you differently. They are not infinite, you are infinite. And on those 88 keys the music that you can make is infinite. I like that. That I can live by.
Watch it, I guarantee it’s worth your time.
Grand Piano (2013, Eugenio Mira)
Not a great movie, but a good one nonetheless. It’s about the return of a talented pianist that couldn’t get over the fact that he failed a piece some time ago. The pianist is played by Elijah Wood btw. And the bad guy by John Cusack.
Apparently the last sequence of the piece he failed to play does some magic thing to the mechanism of the piano and there’s a key hidden somewhere. Cusack wants this key, so he makes the little cinnamon bun that Elijah is to play that piece again, but without mistake.
A Late Quartet (2012, Yaron Zilberman)
A group of four people that’s been together for a long long time. When the oldest member finds out he has Parkinson’s, a shitload of old burried intrigues come back to light.
Who loves who, who is better than who, stuff like that.
As you can notice from the picture, the cast is very good. But the story itself didn’t really impress me. Imogen Poots was cool though.
Le Concert (2009, Radu Mihaileanu)
I’ve seen this quite a while ago, so I don’t remember the exact details. But I know it was good. I know it is emotional, it has an element of humor, and the music is beautiful.
As far as I recall it’s about a conductor that somehow tricks some guys from Paris to play there instead of the Bolshoi Orchestra. During the War, he was stopped in the middle of the piece he was conducting because he hired Jewish musicians and his dream since then was to play it all for an audience. So he gathers his old fellows and does his best to impress.
If you want to, you can also check my review on Mozart in the Jungle, a cool TvShow that follows the events that happen in the backstage of a classical music performance. Season two will start at the beginning of next year.