The movie industry was never really silent. From the beginning, music was an integral part of the film show. Even the Lumière documentaries were screened with musical accompaniments with orchestra or piano, as a solo artist. Probably the music came in the cinemas to meet the need of practical intent: cover the noise produced by the audience and those coming from the projector running, but it was clear from the outset its expressive potential within the seventh art.
Once the film industry get the sound, the piano was left at home, but only physically: but reappear in the silverscreen, with plenty of film dedicated to this beautiful instrument.
Today we take a tour of the most beautiful films that talk about this wonderful tool: are you ready?
I would start with this wonderful film starring Viveca Lindfors in 1944, the title is just what the famous Beethoven Sonata in fact “Appassionata” and throughout the film there are some splendid passage of the Fifth and the Seventh Symphony.
A song to remember (1945): About the life of Chopin, starring Cornel Wilde; George Sand is played by Merle Oberon. The pianist on the soundtrack was Josè Iturbi , but the pianist whose hands were shown on-screen was Ervin Nyiregyhàzi.
Vidor romanticizes Chopin’s patriotism in the film, which was produced during World War II. Chopin, played by Cornel Wilde, is first presented to the audience as a child prodigy playing a piece by Mozart , but suddenly starts to bang on the piano keys when he notices out the window that Polish people are being taken prisoners by the Russian authorities.
This movie is a biopic starring Katharine Hepburn,Paul Henreid, Robert Walker, and Leo Carroll, directed by Clarence Brown, released by MGM, the title is Song of Love (1947). The most unforgettable scene is when Hepburn plays the beautiful pieces at piano.
Hepburn played magisterially Clara Wieck! You should watch this movie! The screenplay was based on play by Bernard Schubert and Mario Silva.
The Seventh Veil, from 1945. This is a fictional story about a piano student and her uncle, played by Ann Todd and James Mason. The uncredited pianist was Eileen Joyce, she played amazingly the Rachmaninoff 2nd Concerto, Grief’s Concerto in A minor and beautiful pieces by Mozart, Chopin and Beethoven ( The Pathetique Sonata assumed an importance role in the movie)
Contemporary movie, we are in 1960 and Francois Truffaut dirige il film “ Tirez sur le pianiste” inspired by the novel of David Goodies. Charlie Kohler is a pianist in a suburb restaurant. One night he met his brother Chico followed by a group of gangster, and this moment change forever is life: he became the perfect target for those criminals.
” Five Easy Pieces”(1970). This is a Drama, about a piano prodigy interpreted by one of the most important and charming actor in Hollywood, Jack Nicholson .The soundtrack includes movements from Mozart’s Concerto in E-flat major, K.271, Fantasy in D minor, K.397 and Chopin’s Preludes.
A masterpiece from Milos Forman: “Amadeus” (1984). The movie is based on Puskin theory about the antagonism between Salieri the great F.Murray Abraham and the young prodigy Mozart, played by Tom Hulce, in this unforgettable interpretation.
This movie is a fictional story of a Bengali piano prodigy ( Navin Chowdhry) who must choose between pleasing his mother or his talented, but unsuccessful piano teacher, Shirley MacLaine,“Madame Sousatzka” (1988) .
The pieces are: Schubert’s Impromptu N. 4, Scriabin’s Etude in D-sharp minor, Op.8/12, Chopin’s C minor Prelude and Polonaise in A flat major, Schumann’s Carnaval and Piano Conerto in A minor, Brahms’s Concert N.1 in D minor, and Beethoven’s Appassionata.
The Fabulous Baker Boys ( 1989), a fictional drama about two young pianist brother, Jess and Beau Bridges and a singer, the beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer. Here the sound track is jazz and pop, including Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Ten Cents A Dance, The Look of Love, Makin’ Whoopee, You’re Sixteen and My Funny Valentine.
“Great Balls of Fire!” (1989) This film follow the life of Jerry Lee Lewis as played by Dannis Quaid. It features many of the artist’s hits such as Great Balls of Fire, Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On and Wild One.
Another movie on Chopin’s life: Impromptu (1991). A romance film, depicting the relation between Chopin, interpreted by Hugh Grant, and George Sand, the great Julian Sands also makes and appearance as Franz Liszt. The film features work by Chopin: Ballade N’1 in G minor, Minute Waltz, Fantasie- impromptu and Liszt: Dante Sonata, Trascendental Etude N.4 “Mazeppa”.
Another movie, another prodigy: “Shine” that describe the life and career of David Helfgott, starring Geoffery Rush as Sir. John Gielgud. The soundtrack is characterise by Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto N.3 ( referred to as ” The Rach 3″) is prominently featured.
“The Legend of 1900″ (1991). This movie is based on the novel written by Alessandro Baricco and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. It’s a pure poetry fiction story about a young pianist born orphan in a boat….
The drama of the War, and the Nazi regime: “The Pianist” is the real story of the Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, played by Adrien Bordy, in the Jewish Ghetto of 1940’s Warsaw. Beethoven’s Monnlight Sonata and CHopin’s Ballade N.1 are the soundtrack of this dramatic story.
Two recent movie that I love: “Ray”, a biopic of Ray Charles, starring jamie Foxx and “Copying Beethoven” in 2006, a fictional take on the final year of composer Beethoven’s ( Ed Harris) life as he composes his Ninth Symphony.
Soon the second part, with more movies