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The Life and Loves of Beethoven (1936)

Un grand amour de Beethoven (original title)
Lyrical biography of the classical composer, depicted as a romantical hero, an accursed artist.


Abel Gance


Abel Gance, Steve Passeur (dialogue) | 1 more credit »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Harry Baur ... Ludwig van Beethoven
Annie Ducaux ... Thérèse Brunswick
Jany Holt ... Giulietta Guicciardi
André Nox ... Humpholz
Jane Marken ... Esther Frechet - la cuisinière
Lucas Gridoux ... Nikolaus Zmeskall
Paul Pauley ... Schuppanzigh
Lucien Rozenberg Lucien Rozenberg ... Le comte Guicciardi
Yolande Laffon Yolande Laffon ... La coumtesse Guicciardi
Jean Debucourt ... Le comte Robert Gallenberg (as Debucourt de la Comédie Française)
Jean-Louis Barrault ... Karl van Beethoven
Georges Paulais Georges Paulais ... Le médecin (as Paulais)
Georges Saillard Georges Saillard ... Breuning
Jean Pâqui ... Pierrot
Philippe Richard Philippe Richard


1801, in Vienna, two young women, his pupils, are in love with him. Thérèse de Brunswick's love remains unrequited even though she and Beethoven are engaged for years; Juliette Guicciardi, whom Beethoven loves but who marries a count, regrets that decision, but by then he and Thérèse are engaged. When Beethoven loses Juliette, he moves to the mill at Heiligenstadt; realizing he's becoming deaf, profound depression sets in. He rejects suicide, holding on to remembered sound and to his work, a dedication assisted by Thérèse and others. In later years, we see his devotion to an ungrateful and thieving nephew, his poverty, the isolation of deafness, and the love of friends. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Biography | Drama | Music


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Release Date:

21 November 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Life and Loves of Beethoven See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Général Productions See more »
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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film is one of over 200 titles in the list of independent feature films made available for television presentation by Advance Television Pictures announced in Motion Picture Herald 4 April 1942. At this time, television broadcasting was in its infancy, almost totally curtailed by the advent of World War II, and would not continue to develop until 1945-1946. Because of poor documentation (feature films were often not identified by title in conventional sources) no record has yet been found of its initial television broadcast. See more »


La Melancolie
Written by Ludwig van Beethoven
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User Reviews

Practically unwatchable and sloppy--particularly the English captioned version
30 August 2006 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

How can the director who produced film classics like NAPOLEON and J'ACCUSE have produced such a shoddy film?! I was totally surprised to find this one of the most tedious films I have seen in some time and I have to admit at the outset that I couldn't force myself to see the entire film. Read on a see why.

The film begins with a dying kid and a crying mother in a room. A guy who doesn't particularly look like Beethoven (and has remarkably good hearing) is apparently Beethoven and he begins playing an orchestral piece by himself just using a piano! Yes, you can hear flutes, violins and countless other instruments all coming from the piano like some sort of crappy music video from the 1960s. While I was surprised by this, I was even more surprised when just moments later the same type thing happened again as Beethoven's lady love was doing the exact same thing herself--this time outside with a group of friends at her own piano. Considering she, too, had this amazing talent, I could see why Beethoven loved her so (this is sarcasm, by the way--just wanted to let you know). The film doesn't get much better after this and really doesn't seem much like the real life story of Beethoven. In this Bizarro World version of his life, his landlords LOVE him (even though in reality he got evicted dozens of times because his music at all hours alienated him from all his landlords).

To make things worse, the English captioning is among the worst I've ever seen. Often long comments in French are either NOT translated or just summarized. While I am not exactly fluent in the language, at times I did much better ignoring the captions and just trying to decipher what they were saying myself. I cannot blame Gance for this, but put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the hacks who later did the captioning.

The bottom line is this is NOT Beethoven's life nor is it particularly well-made nor is it compelling. There are other less boring and better made bio-pics. Skip it and look for another French film--there are so many better. For example, at the same time period that this film was made, the films of Marcel Pagnol were absolutely brilliant.

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