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A Song to Remember (1945) DVDRip (SiRiUs sHaRe).avi
A Song to Remember (1945).rtf
A Song to Remember (1945)
Biography of Frederic Chopin.
Paul Muni ... Prof. Joseph Elsner
Merle Oberon ... George Sand
Cornel Wilde ... Frédéric Chopin
Nina Foch ... Constantia
George Coulouris ... Louis Pleyel
Howard Freeman ... Kalkbrenner
Stephen Bekassy ... Franz Liszt
"A Song to Remember" is supposed to be the life of Chopin but in fact, very little in it is historically accurate. It's still a beautiful, emotional, and sumptuous movie, filled with the heavenly music of Chopin played by Jose Iturbi.
"A Song to Remember" helped to popularize Chopin's romantic, passionate music and launched Cornel Wilde's star into the heavens. Though he's never done much for me personally, he cuts a dashing figure as Chopin. The Chopin of Columbia Pictures is a strong patriot of Poland who, under the influence of the controlling George Sand, becomes a self-involved artist. Sand believed (here anyway) that the artist needed to serve himself alone and not others. Thus, she cut him off from his teacher and friend, Professor Elsnore, who wants Chopin to finish his magnificent Polonaise, a freedom cry for his beloved Poland, which is being suppressed by the Russians. Under Sand's control, Chopin turns out little ditties instead.
There really was a Professor Elsnore, but he did not teach Chopin piano, rather, music theory and composition. The role is played effectively by Paul Muni, who works to protect the change in Chopin's personality and apathy toward politics to his family and friends. Merle Oberon is stunning as a cold George Sand. Nina Foch plays Chopin's Polish girlfriend Constantia (and in reality, Constantia did exist).
Well, what is true and what isn't? Chopin was a child prodigy, he did meet George Sand at a party which was also attended by Franz Liszt, the bad weather in Mallorca nearly killed him, and in fact, after that time, he was never fully healthy again. He broke with George Sand two years before he died. She is the one who tried to get back together. His burial isn't covered in the film, but Chopin is buried in Paris. At his request, his heart was removed and buried in Poland.
One of the scenes in "A Song to Remember" has a place in history, though not perhaps in Chopin's, but that of another famous pianist. During a party, it is announced that Franz Liszt will play. The room is plunged into darkness. As the audience listens, George Sand walks over to the piano and places a candleabra on top of it to reveal that it is not Liszt at all, but Chopin. It is said that because of that scene, Liberace never played piano without his own famous candelabra.
"A Song to Remember" is one of many bios and biopics based on the lives and careers of great composers. It is a superficial and inaccurate account of Frederic Chopin, executed with rich production values, colorful performances, and fine piano renderings on the soundtrack.
What makes filmmakers constantly churn out these gross fabrications on composers? Probably because with all the emotional and dramatic power of their music, these creative artists surely must have lived very exciting lives.
In truth, the dramatic power and emotional expressiveness undoubtedly took place in their studios, where all the action and revelation raged within their heads, through their fingers, and onto score paper.
Theirs was a world of technical concentration, dedication and execution. It was about problems of form, balance, themes, voicings, instrumentation and the like -- in other words, matters concerning the elements of music.
Not much there in the way of dramatic subject material. Yet screenplay writers, producers and directors go on concocting characters that never existed, situations that never took place, and scenes that impose 'modern' views upon 'classic' events.
Thus we have Lizst ("Song Without End") Mozart ("Amadeus") Beethoven ("Immortal Beloved") Schumann and Brahms ("Song of Love") Kern ("Til the Clouds Roll By") Rodgers and Hart ("Words and Music") and countless others being given The Treatment. Is it truly a song without end?
In "A Song to Remember" we are required to suspend our historical knowledge and go with the flow of romantic melodrama, as the life and career of the Chopin is brazenly exploited for dramatic purposes. Thus we can thrill to the the pianism of Jose Iturbi, revel in the beauty and grace of Merle Oberon, enjoy the young and debonair Cornell Wilde, and devour the rococo posturings of Paul Muni. Were only life really as dramatically pat as this.
Legally filmmakers have no worries over such exploitation. The subjects and families are all conveniently deceased, and it's fair game without risk of lawsuits or infringment cases. Further, the music is, for the most part, in public domain, cancelling out copyright costs.
Therefore we simply place a mental inscription over the portal to these fanciful journeys: "Abandon Your Senses, All Ye Who Enter Here."
I love the music of Chopin. That is why I was eager to see this 1945 classic about his life. After seeing it, I enjoyed the film so much that it spurred me to seek out some biographical information on his life. After having done so, I realized that the story in the film bore very little resemblance to the truth and I was greatly disappointed. It was just another example of extremely entertaining Hollywood drivel.
As a work of fiction, the film was nicely done. The story was enchanting and it painted Chopin as a very noble patriot, playing himself to death in concerts to earn money to support the Polish revolution, though I found no support for that in anything I read. Cornel Wilde was nominated for an Oscar for his performance, which was excellent indeed, but he was incongruously cast. Wilde is handsome and athletic looking and Chopin was plain and frail. Paul Muni, though charming in the role of Professor Elsner, was much too eccentric and ebulliently peculiar to be very believable. The best performance by far was given by Merle Oberon as the cold and iron willed George Sand, whose love affair with Chopin turned into a tyrannical attempt to shelter him from the world.
The best part of this film was the music of Chopin himself, played brilliantly by Jose Iturbi. The music alone was worth enduring the Hollywood prevarication. I also enjoyed the 19th Century costumes.
I rated this film a 7/10. If it were a fictional account of some person who never existed, I probably would have rated it a 9/10, because it was very enjoyable. However, such liberties were taken with the truth that I had to deduct a couple of points in protest. If you are a classic film buff or a classical music lover, it is definitely worth seeing.