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MOVIEWEB ranks 'The Best Movies About Classical Music'

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These cinematic composers' performances are music to our ears.

MOVIEWEB's BRENT WIGGINS writes…..Movies lend themselves to artistic visions. The camera lens follows, captures, releases, and follows a story again and again. Moving pictures are poetry in motion that keep our attention through their dreamscape and hellscape. Awake for the life flashing before our eyes, we become engrossed in a second life and are able to live many lives through cinema. The slice of life found in films can take many forms, but directors are apt at seeing beyond audiences' disbelief. Movies help us see these ideas and emotions commingle and intermingle frame by frame, picture by picture, and sound by sound.

Music influences many movies' modus operandi. They set a tone intrinsic to the story and the characters' fall from grace and rise to redemption. Music also sets themes in stone just as easily. John Williams composed the Star Wars saga soundtrack with memorable themes such as "The Imperial March (Darth Vader's Theme)" and the "Main Theme" during the opening, scrolling credits. Classical music plays with our emotions; "Beautiful Dreamer" presents a nice contrast between fantasy and dark reality from the Joker in Batman (1989). Films about music are about the poetry between the lines and the classics, with their composers, gave some of the best soundtracks of their lives.

death in venice 1971Dear International
Gustav von Aschenbach (Dirk Bogarde) is a fictional writer in this adaptation of Thomas Mann's 1912 novella. He is surrounded by impending death in the Italian city due to a cholera outbreak that is nonchalantly dealt with. On top of that, Aschenbach has heart disease, limiting his peace and quiet even more. He finds new life in the tourist and youthful Polish boy named Tadzio (Björn Andrésen). While the film does not focus on a composer of music, it does feature classical music from the likes of Gustav Mahler, Ludwig van Beethoven, and Modest Mussorgsky. The abstraction and the objectivity of Gustav's emotions are understood through the music. They lull the viewer into the story of a repressed and troubled artist and the dying longing of a disciplined man.

lisztomania1975Warner Bros. Pictures
Spearheaded by Roger Daltrey, lead singer of rock band, The Who, Lisztomania recounts the world's first rock star, Hungarian composer, Franz Liszt. The surreal and loosey-goosey biographical comedy was inspired by German Romantic and literary critic Heinrich Heine's coinage, which described accounts of women rushing the stage during Liszt's piano performances. The film includes synthesized versions of Liszt's music and composer Richard Wagner, made by progressive rock band Yes keyboardist, Rick Wakeman. Pre-dating Beatlemania, Ringo Starr naturally makes an appearance as the Pope.

Mr Holland's Opus (1995) - Beethoven's 7thBuena Vista Pictures
Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss) is a 30-year-old music teacher at John F. Kennedy High School and an aspiring composer. He creates his symphony during major changes in American society, similar to how Forrest Gump did in its vignettes of each era. The film features many pieces of non-Western classical scores, including the title track by Holland called "An American Symphony" composed by Michael Kaeman. Despite the screenplay and Dreyfuss' Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations, the orchestral music by Kaeman won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement in 1997.

immortal-beloved-1994Sony Pictures Releasing
Gary Oldman plays German composer and pianist Ludwig van Beethoven in this historical drama. Through a series of flashbacks, private letters, and his biographer Anton Schindler, the film attempts to unravel the mystery of who Beethoven's Unsterbliche Geliebte, or Immortal Beloved, was. Oldman's performance is passionate and perverse; a staunch bout of dissonance for the prim classicists.

amadeus1984Orion Pictures
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce) is given a fictionalized rivalry with Italian composer Antonio Salieri (F. Murrary Abraham from Ray Bradbury's The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit). Mozart is a debauching musical genius (listen to his "Leck mich im Arsch" or "Lick me in the arse") while Salieri, once a devout Catholic, has his nose turned up to the sky in renouncement to God for gifting such a man with more talent than him. Rather than suffering from a God complex, or taking responsibility for his own prowess, he plots to murder Mozart. The film has been considered one of the greatest ever made, winning many awards. Both actors were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor; Abraham took home the gold, but both lived the music.

Shine1996First Line Features
Australian concert pianist, David Helfgott (portrayed by Geoffrey Rush) was a budding musician who suffered mental breakdowns and was institutionalized most of his life. His father was both an advocate and abuser, teaching and tormenting David into perfection and compliance. Rather than settle in his father's controlling nuclear family dynamic, David continued to compose and perform his music, eventually finding his way to America. Rush won the Academy Award for Best Actor in Shine and is the tragic triumph of a true-blue virtuoso.

ThePianist2002Syrena Entertainment Group
Adrian Brody plays Holocaust survivor and Polish-Jewish pianist and composer, Wladyslaw Szpilman. The film is based on Szpilman's autobiography of the same name, recounting his time living with his family in the Warsaw Ghetto of Nazi-occupied Poland. His survival and story are both remarkable and terrifying. Every note he strikes his keys with are bittersweet tears of joy, a celebration of life's easily fleeting beauty.

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