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Beethoven Lives Upstairs
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie captures Beethoven's complex personality and the brilliance of his music. It's a worthy introduction for older kids to the composer. Children ages 6 and up will enjoy the colorful drama of Beethoven's story and the humor in many scenes. Several scenes are geared toward pre-adolescents who will be intrigued by Beethoven's independent spirit and the troubles faced by his young neighbor. Reading one of the many fine books about Beethoven would be a good preliminary activity to this video.
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What's the story?
Young Christophe's father has just died and, to make matters worse, his mother has taken in a crazy man for a boarder. Christophe learns from his Uncle Kurt, a student at the conservatory, that the man is a great composer and pianist. All Christophe sees in Ludwig van Beethoven, though, is a strange old man who mutters, pounds on his piano, and writes music on the walls. As Christophe learns more about Beethoven's character, and the codger's frustrating deafness, the boy, now fascinated by the man and his music, turns into the composer's awestruck companion. Based partly on historical fact, BEETHOVEN LIVES UPSTAIRS depicts Beethoven as he works on his ninth and final symphony.
Is it any good?
Beethoven's music and eccentric personality hold almost universal appeal to youngsters, and this is a great way to introduce them to his works. Viewers get to witness several maniacal episodes from the perspective of a young boy and the soundtrack gives beautifully performed examples of Beethoven's genius. Beethoven hurls food at servants, demeans musicians, and keeps himself awake by pouring pitchers of cold water over his head. These tense segments hold the audience's attention long enough for them to see the more tender side of this genius.
The story persistently encourages empathy for Beethoven's worsening deafness late in the gifted man's life. Christophe's uncle explains that beautiful music is behind the alarming cacophony that comes from Beethoven's quarters. The boy eventually gains an admiration for the composer when he refuses the invitation to a royal dinner with his famous quote, "There are thousands of Princes, but there is only one Beethoven." As he befriends young Christophe, the composer reveals his unhappy childhood with a drunken father, and the story begins to show that Beethoven's genius, and the deafness that began to thwart it, were the cause for his isolation and bizarre behavior.
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