TBT: Immortal Beloved (1994)

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Immortal Beloved (1994) was written and directed by Bernard Rose, and it is one of those films I’ve wanted to do a post on for forever, and yet somehow the very thought of trying to tackle it is so daunting that I’ve started and stopped writing this at least a dozen times. You’d think that, because I love it so much, it would make things easier for me to write about, but honestly, my writing is motivated by a barely contained rage, so when it comes to something I love, it’s damn near impossible for the words to flow. Even in contrast to Rose’s horrifically bad Devil’s Violinist, it’s like there’s nothing about Immortal Beloved that is worthy of comparison because it’s too damn perfect.

How perfect is it? Let me list the ways:

1. The Costumes – Maurizio Millenotti

Millenotti, who was responsible for the amazing costumes in the 1997 Anna Karenina, designed some of the most beautiful early 19th-century outfits I’ve yet seen put to film. The details are just fantastic.

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2. Gary Oldman – Ludwig van Beethoven

Do I even need to explain this one?

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3. Isabella Rossellini – Anna Marie Erdödy

I have been obsessed with her since I first laid eyes on her in Death Becomes Her. I love it when the Countess finally goes back to her roots and starts kickin’ it old school in the Russian wilderness.

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3. Valeria Golino – Giulietta Guiccardi

Gah. SHE. IS. SO. PRETTY. And she gets the best dresses in the entire film.

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4. Miriam Margolyes – Nanette Streicherová

She plays the biddiest of biddies. I love EVERYTHING about her look. It’s flawless biddy perfection!

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5. Jeroen Krabbé – Anton Felix Schindler

I just want to run my hands through his hair. Is that so wrong?

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6. Johanna ter Steege – Johanna Reiss

Yeah, she’s the least shiny out of all of Beethoven’s theoretical “beloveds,” but she was also The One! The angst! The tension! The regret! I adore her.

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7. Bernard Rose -Elector Max Friedrich

Yep, the director himself in a brief scene where he plays the Elector of Cologne listening to the young Beethoven perform.

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I could go on and on, but really, just save me the typing and watch the film. It’s pure deliciousness.

 

What’s your favorite thing about Immortal Beloved and why is it Gary Oldman? 

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About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Website

Sarah discovered her dual passion for history and costume right around the age of twelve. Dragged kicking and screaming to her first Renaissance Faire at Black Point, she was convinced she was going to hate it, but to her surprise, she fell head over heels in love with the world of reenactment and dress up immediately. Her undergraduate degree is in Clothing & Textile Design, and she has a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture. When she’s not hauling crap to SCA events and ren faires, Sarah enjoys reading true crime books, writing fiction, and sewing historical clothing from the Middle Ages through the 20th-century. One of these days, she might even start updating her old costuming blog again.

10 Responses

  1. Maria D.

    I have never seen this either and I have to admit that I feel like I’ve missed something really important after reading this – those costumes are freaking amazing and to think that in the “old days”, seamstresses really did these clothing items by hand….oh the talent!

    Reply
  2. Susan Pola

    Isabella Rossellini’s character is Hungarian, not Russian.
    I love the movie as it speculates on just who Beethoven’s ‘Immortal Beloved’ really was.
    Another perfection was the costumes fit the class of person that the character portrayed. Even Johanna Reiss’ dress at end showed middle class, but someone who had prospered.
    It, the movie, goes into my re-watch list.

    Reply
  3. SarahV

    There is a luminously lit shot of Isabella Rossellini in that black number with the golden ornamented empire waist and that velvet choke listening rapturously to a music concert that is literally my platonic ideal of ‘Beautiful Woman.” (there is a screencap up there)

    Seriously. She looks so gorgeous it makes me irrationally angry.

    *adjectives for the win!

    Reply
  4. Melanie B

    This is still one of my favorite films about a composer (this and Amadeus), it makes you appreciate Beethoven’s amazing work even more ;)

    Reply
  5. Nit-Picking Badger

    Alas, the costumes are absolutely gorgeous (goes off to download those pics of the back of that blue dress, so helpful!) but like Kristine above, I find it quite unwatchable due to the So Made Up It Could Be About Beethoven The Dog screenplay…(I have the same problem with Amadeus).
    Best to be watch with copious quantities of fermented fruit juice and snark (while casting admiring glances at the frocks)….

    Reply
  6. brocadegoddess

    I can’t speak to the HA of the plot (I will bow to those who can) but the costumes in this and the actual quality of the storytelling and performances themselves are all gorgeous!

    I have one little irritant – it’s as if the costuming of the movie was *too* good because I keep seeing that blue dress on Pinterest with the label of being an actual extant gown! Lol

    Reply

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