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Copying Beethoven

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for some sexual elements
not reviewed
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Drama, History, Music, Romance, Biography
1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
November 10, 2006 (limited—28 theater opening)
Copyright, MGM Copyright, MGM Copyright, MGM Copyright, MGM Copyright, MGM Copyright, MGM Copyright, MGM Copyright, MGM Copyright, MGM
Relevant Issues
Featuring: Ed Harris, Diane Kruger, Matthew Goode, Ralph Riach, Bill Stewart, George Mendel, Joe Anderson, Angus Barnett, Nicholas Jones, Phyllida Law
Director: Agnieszka Holland
Producer: Ernst Goldschmidt, Marina Grasic, Andreas Schmid
Distributor: MGM

“The passion behind the genius”

Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “An aspiring composer of humble means, 23-year-old Anna Holtz is seeking inspiration and career advancement in the world’s music capital, Vienna. A student at the music conservatory, she is recommended for a position at a venerated publisher, and, in a fortuitous turn of events, orchestrates an opportunity to work beside the greatest, most mercurial artist alive—Ludwig van Beethoven. When the skeptical Beethoven issues an impromptu challenge, Anna demonstrates her competence and musical insight. The maestro accepts Anna as his copyist, beginning a remarkable relationship that will transform both of their lives.

Classical music aficionado or no, it’s tough not to be moved by the soaring notes of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The work stands as both a defining highpoint in the composer’s career and a dynamic and beguiling legacy of its era. An imaginative exploration of Beethoven’s life in his final days working on the Ninth, “Copying Beethoven” draws inspiration from the music itself.

It is 1824. The composer, played brilliantly by Ed Harris, is racing to finish his new symphony. However, it has been years since his last success and he is plagued by deafness, loneliness and personal trauma. A copyist is urgently needed to help the composer finish in time for the scheduled first performance—otherwise the orchestra will have no music to play. Insightful young conservatory student and aspiring composer Anna Holtz (Diane Kruger) is recommended for the position. The mercurial Beethoven is skeptical that a woman might become involved in his masterpiece but slowly comes to trust in Anna’s assistance and in the end becomes quite fond of her.

By the time the piece is performed—a moment in history captured in an exquisitely moving shot from [fictional] Anna’s perspective, as she sits on the orchestra floor helping the deaf Beethoven to keep time—her presence in his life is an absolute necessity. Her deep understanding of his work is such that she even corrects mistakes he has made, while her passionate personality opens a door into his proud, private world.

Harris is no stranger to bringing iconic, larger-than-life figures to the screen… his Beethoven is ribald and volatile, vulnerable and, ultimately, endearing. He is matched in intensity and skill by Kruger, who makes the young Anna both an enraptured apprentice and a paragon of willful female independence and ambition. …”

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative—…Anna Holtz is a fictitious character, Beethoven stood alongside the actual conductor and gave his own rendition as well, but as he could not hear the orchestra, he was not actually followed for the tempo, passionate as his direction was. There was no woman to help him there—in fact, the copyists for the 9th were men, and they would not have changed nor corrected a single bit of his work. And the contralto turned him around to see the applause and numerous standing ovations. This movie is fine morally for sensitive viewers, but is utter trite and should not be portrayed any further as historically-based or factual…
My Ratings: Good / 3½
Kristina Richards, age 24
Positive—I enjoyed this movie very much and as the previous person commented I wasn’t sure if it was a true story, but that didn’t really matter. The director wanted to tell a story and I think he did a good job of it. He did a good job of showing the misgiving of Beethoven’s past, trying to force his nephew into becoming a concert pianist. The odd relationship they shared made for a good scene during the 9th symphony. I personally got chill bumps during the 9th symphony because the director did a good job of building up to it. It seemed to really show the genius of Beethoven and the gift that God had put on the inside of him. In fact, Beethoven makes reference to God numerous times, and it is almost always a positive remark. Except for a scene of him mooning the copyist, this movie was clean. I would recommend it to anyone that is wanting to hear what God can do through one person willing to be used of him.
My Ratings: Average / 3
Jon Roberts, age 29
Movie Critics
…silly and misguided, if reasonably entertaining for its charming lack of self-awareness, its weakness for lines like ‘Loneliness is my religion!’ and its transcendently beautiful music…
Carina Chocano, Los Angeles Times
…Overwrought biopic goes out of tune… If you want to make Beethoven roll over, take him to see this biopic, then run. …
Bob Hoover, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
…empurpled bio-fantasy is hooey with an anachronistic feminist slant from start to finish…
Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly
…the picture never successfully comes off the written page…
Michael Rechtshaffen, The Hollywood Reporter
…4 uses of ‘Oh my God,’ 2 each of ‘Christ,’ ‘For God’s sakes,’ ‘G-damn’ and ‘My God’ and 1 use each of ‘For Christ’s sakes,’ ‘God,’ ‘Jesus’" and ‘Oh God.’…