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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Romance > Classcial Music > Biography > Immortal Beloved (Blu-ray)

Immortal Beloved (Blu-ray)


Picture: B+     Sound: A-     Extras: C     Film: C



Gary Oldman plays Beethoven in writer/director Bernard Rose’s thriller/drama Immortal Beloved, a 1994 prestige release that was not a big hit upon initial release, but has gained a big following thanks to its score, acting, production design and interesting performances.  The title refers to the unknown muse of the genius composer, who a friend (Jeroen Krabbé as Anton Felix Schindler) intends to unveil.  Unfortunately, nothing totally works here and the mystery assumes it is a lady who was the inspiration.  This is not to say anyone was gay or otherwise, but this is an interesting assumption that undermines some aspects of the film and its mystery.


If we go along with it, the film never delivers convincingly anything about the muse and some get carried away by who could be so great to him that it would ignite his genius, expecting someone incredible in a purely (totally?) romantic way.  Guess they forget quickly it might be someone whose liability might be ambiguous or controversial like a Yoko Ono.  Isabella Rossellini and Valeria Golino are very appealing, as is Johanna Ter Steege, but the film just never came together for me and despite the upscale cult building around the film, raves are limited on the overall film.  Still, to have this on Blu-ray is a big coup for Sony and if you can see it this way, you may want to take a (second?) look at it just he same.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image was shot in real anamorphic Panavision by Peter Suschitzky and looks very good despite being an early example of color gutting.  That never worked for me in this film, but looks like an Archie Comics release versus the gutting we see now.  I was not impressed with previous DVD transfers of the film, so the Blu-ray will be a revelation for those who never saw any 35mm footage of it.  For the third time ever, Sony has included Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks (English & French in this case) and for the first time, no other soundtracks.  No PCM 16/48 5.1 or standard Dolby Digital 5.1 versions, so the sound is exemplary and for those audiophiles who always loved the Beethoven score, they can be more than confident that this will deliver like a DVD-Audio, special vinyl or CD pressing of the film’s soundtrack by Sir Georg Solti.  A DVD-Audio was never issued, though Dolby True HD is essentially the same as the MLP sound from that format.  More surprising, Sony never got around to issuing the score in the SACD format, so audiophiles will want this Blu-ray just for the True HD.  Extras include director’s feature length audio commentary, Beethoven documentary and original featurette on the film.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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