Immortal Beloved [1994]

This sumptuous and moving 1994 film written and directed by Bernard Rose (Candyman) investigates the artistic and romantic passions of one of the greatest composers of all time. Featuring a superb performance by Gary Oldman (Sid and Nancy) as Ludwig van Beethoven, Immortal Beloved is full of uncommonly vivid, rich imagery as it charts the tumultuous life of the deaf child prodigy and his rise to the height of musical achievement. Along the way, he attempts to play mentor to his nephew, attend to his many passionate romances--the most stable one was with a countess (Isabella Rossellini)--and fight bouts of depression and madness that ruled his life and his art. The film is framed around a "Rosebud"-type letter found after the composer's death that makes up the crux of the story. Jeroen Krabbé (The Fugitive), playing Beethoven's lifelong friend, attempts to discover who Beethoven's muse really was, becoming as driven as his friend in discovering the unlikely identity of the composer's "immortal beloved." Through this we gain an insight into the nature of obsession, romance, and the heights and sacrifices of artistic achievement. The film exhibits some extraordinary sound design, and the finale features a magical encapsulation of Beethoven's life and loves set to his "Ode to Joy." As an exciting and passionate journey, Immortal Beloved is its own masterpiece. --Robert Lane

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