How does the sound move

Moved by the sound

A year of commemoration under the sign of Ludwig van Beethoven on the occasion of his 250th birthday - what is the cinema doing there? Wasn't it the film that sells its work? Moonlight sonata and ruined the first movement of the 5th symphony through permanent repetitions and degraded Beethoven's compositions to barely audible background noise?

At least since the 100th anniversary of his death, on which an elaborate silent film biopic was made with Fritz Kortner in the lead role, Beethoven anniversaries seem to be just as unable to do without the cinema as, conversely, the film is able to shake off its dubious relationship with Beethoven's music. The retrospective Moved by the sound. The cinema and Ludwig van Beethoven shows, however, that the cinematic appropriation of Beethoven is only partly the story of an unfortunate mesalliance.

The film-historical passage leads to well-known auteur films and forgotten curiosities, it alternates between feature, documentary and experimental film and takes into account the concert film, which is never taken very seriously. Many of the selected works are on their way to Beethoven. The films seem like interpretations of his compositions, some are reminiscent of Samuel Fuller's dictum: "Beethoven draws me into the imaginary through his sense of timing." The film director becomes a listener who translates his impressions and fantasies into images of movement. Sometimes directors like Agnieszka Holland or Werner Schroeter allow themselves to experiment with such enthusiasm, without fear of disrespect, that Beethoven's music becomes perceptible in a completely new way. At the same time, the film has become an archive of over 100 years of Beethoven interpretations. His music has accompanied the cinema from the very beginning, and it indicates that film history has long since become part of the lively existence of Beethoven’s work cosmos.

And Beethoven himself? Biopics prefer to pounce on the prominent stations of the musician's biography: the dedication to the enigmatic "immortal lover", the relationship with Giulietta Guicciardi and Therese Brunsvik, the deafness, the tormented housekeepers, Beethoven's crushing love for his nephew Karl ... The biopics of our film series But they are not only interested in the guaranteed stations of his biography, they rather follow a mind game, as is great in the program booklet of the National Film Theater in London with the announcement of Abel Gances Un Grand Amour de Beethoven read: “When Beethoven found out that his beloved was marrying someone else, Beethoven hid on the gallery of the church where the ceremony was to take place in order to end it with the funeral march played on the organ Eroica to numb. If he didn't, he should really have done it because it just makes a great scene. ”This is what makes the encounter between film and Beethoven so fascinating: cinema deals with the composer's legacy in a much more independent and radical way than literature and musicology at times. Instead of freezing with respect, they let the music move them.

The retrospective curated by Stephan Ahrens Moved by the sound. The cinema and Ludwig van Beethoven is a project within the framework of "BTHVN 2020", funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media and under the patronage of the Federal President. The anthology of the same name will be published by Bertz + Fischer Verlag to accompany the film series Moved by the sound.