The movie ‘Immortal Beloved’ is a movie that I have mixed feelings about. Visually, this movie is great: beautiful interiors; the costumes are, even though not totally historically correct, very beautiful; the haircuts are a lot more varied then the ‘curly updo’ thing you usually see in costume movies. It’s also one of the few movies using mittaines (little gloves covering the wrist) and big shawls which to me are essential for Victorian outfits. And of course during the entire movie you can hear the beautiful music of Beethoven.
The use of two Dutch actors for two important roles seems curious, but their accented speech gives the movie a fitting, foreign, feeling.
What bothered me is above all, Gary Oldman, but that’s a personal quirk. The movie moves between different timeperiods so it’s hard to keep track of what happens sometimes. The movie shows Beethoven as a crazy, unlovable person, keen on bothering and annoying others. The movie puts Johanna van Beethoven forward as the Immortal Beloved, while current popular opinion favours Antonie Brentano.
The letter to the Unsterbliche Geliebte (immortal beloved) actually exists, but there is no consensus among Beethoven scholars as to the true identity of the intended recipient. Ladies who are considered possible recipients are: Giulietta Guicciardi, Therese von Brunswick, Antonie Brentano, Johanna van Beethoven, and Countess Anna-Marie Erdődy, almost all are featured in the movie.
Scholars have never identified who the woman was, but the film’s director, Bernard Rose, has controversially claimed in an interview that he has successfully identified the woman whom Beethoven loved and he shows his opinion in the movie.
In conclusion, this movie is beautifully made, with stunning visuals and music. Whether it is believable from a more academic point of view is to be debated. Some Beethoven lovers favour ‘Un Grand Amour de Beethoven’, so if you have the chance, make sure to watch it!
For more info on Beethoven himself you might want to check out this site (scroll past the Dutch intro), it has a great faq with lots of resources for further reading.