Celebrated stage and screen actor/director Fritz Kortner was a formidable (if unrelentingly dour) presence as the title character in The Life of Beethoven. Alas, with only 70 minutes' worth of screen time, the film is able to concentrate only on the "highlights" of Beethoven's existence. The fact that the film was silent spared the audience the usual "and then I wrote" chronology, though the strains of those nine symphonies are frankly sorely missed. Most of the film concentrates on Beethoven's unsatisfactory love life, suggesting that his genius was fueled by an early and insurmountable romantic disappointment. Ernst Baumeister co-stars as Ludwig V.'s contemporary Joseph Haydn.
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