Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mozart's Sister (Rhoades)

“Mozart’s Sister”
A Family Act

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Today’s Infant Mortality Rate in Europe is only 5.6 per 1,000 births, but it used to be much higher before modern medicine. A French drama titled “Mozart’s Sister” (original title: “Nannerl, la sœur de Mozart”) tells a fictional story about the sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, his only sibling to survive infancy.
Maria Anna “Nannerl” Mozart wished she’d been born a boy. Her brother got all the breaks.
You see, 14-year old Nannerl and 11-year-old Amadeus performed as a brother-sister act, she an accomplished harpsichordist and he a virtuoso pianist.
Alas, Nannerl really wanted to compose and play the violin, but her father Leopold forbade it because “this is not an instrument for a woman.” Besides, this popular duo act helped support the family.
In this re-imagining, we find that the Mozarts’ carriage breaks down while on tour in France and they’re forced to take refuge in the nearby Abbaye de Fontevraud. There Nannerl meets 13-year-old princess Louise Marie, sister of Louis, Dauphin of France. Of course, they become the best-est of friends. This leads to meeting the young Dauphin and a hint of romance, but Louise warns her away from him.
Writer-director René Féret provides us with his own family act, casting his two daughters in the lead roles – Marie as Nannerl Mozart and Lisa as Louise de France. David Moreau has the peripheral role of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Clovis Fouin appears as Le Dauphin.
Féret’s film captures the look and feel of a bygone century. You will revel in the beautiful French countryside and the marvelous chateau of Versailles. But it is Féret’s intellectual honesty in portraying how the world worked in the mid-1700s that anchors the story.
The high point of “Mozart’s Sister” is when finally Nannerl plays solo violin and leads a small orchestra performing her own composition. The film is making music this week at the Tropic Cinema. (Note that composer Marie-Jeanne Séréro does a brilliant job of creating original music for the film that sounds like what we might expect from another Mozart.)
The film posits that Mozart’s sister possessed a genius too – but because she was female, few would ever see it, nor would she be allowed to develop it. The director calls it, “The idea of a lost life.”
The world’s loss, as if she’d died at birth.
[from Solares Hill] 

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