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  • Three films about the last year of Schubert's life. I missed the first but can vouch that the last two are superb: gentle, mysterious, subtly nuanced, and of unexpected emotional power.

    The third film follows Schubert's final illness, claustrophobically restricted to the two rooms of his apartment: his hallucinations of a doppelganger (an image drawn from one of his great final songs, in the Schwanengesang), and his struggle with and rejection of the conventional comfort offered by the church. But it is the second film that sticks in the memory, and is, I think, a masterpiece. It tells the story of one day, in which Schubert and some friends go on a picnic to the country outside Vienna, ending up at a garden party that becomes more drunken and overwrought as darkness falls. Schubert and one of the women in the party have, it seems, gradually become attracted to each other through the day, but what he thinks is their tenderly blossoming romance is shattered by his sudden realization of her motives; a hugely powerful moment that lays bare the sadness and emptiness of his emotional life. The seemingly aimless plot, in which the friends wander through the country with no apparent goal in mind, conceals a steady increase in emotional tension as the complexities of relationships among them are revealed. Real life irrupts in the shape of a group of gypsies being pursued through the forest by the Viennese yeomanry, the friends becoming appalled spectators of the confrontation. At the garden party, there is a marvellously observed meeting between Schubert and Johann Strauss (the Elder); Schubert's friendliness and frank enthusiasm for Strauss's music, which a band plays in the background, meets a frosty response from Strauss; later in the evening, when Schubert plays the piano himself, accompanying a singer in one of his own songs, and then a violinist in the beautiful Fantasy in C, there is a single shot that reveals all: unobserved, his face flickering in the candlelight, Strauss looks on with serene acceptance - though he has been much less enthusiastic about Schubert's music than the latter's friends, he realizes far more than them how much greater it is than his own. All the contradictions and tensions in the relationship between the gifted and the great, the Salieris and the Mozarts, are encapsulated in that shot.

    The British TV company Channel Four was one of the co-commissioners of the trilogy: they showed it just once, in 1987. Ten years later, for Schubert's bicentenary, Channel Four proudly announced that they had commissioned a whole new range of programmes about Schubert, but absurdly failed to schedule these great films, even though they had partly commissioned them themselves! Doubtless by then there was no-one left at Channel Four who even remembered these films existed. But that is just a small part of the sad demise of all non-English-language films on British TV, to the great impoverishment of our film culture.
  • Long remembered, I once had a VHS{beta} of this piece. Harrowing,poetic beautiful. Lets be objective. Production values were excellent, mis en scene perfection. Acting perfectly pitched. Rich eye caressing cinematography and imaginative but not self-conscious direction.

    Why this was only seen once in Britain I don't know. Why it did not win plaudits and survive reflects the dominance of English language cine at the time.

    Someone, please release it let it go and we can enjoy film at its best, warm, moving thought provoking and memorable.

    From the powerful beginning, poignant ending and alluring settings this is as if one were in Schubert's Vienna {Praha?}. A couple of shots still stick in the mind, the hospital scene after treatment and the receding camera, leaving Franz's desk out of the window, across the tenement space and into the opposite window. Words don't express the symbolic power and beauty of this work.
  • I have seen 16 years before in TV, but it's unforgettable for me. (I wish to see again.) Some frame of film is graven in my head. I have seen a glass of red wine what was the GLASS OF RED WINE in it's totality. The light and camera work made the scene so unforgettable. The screen-play is masterful too with gentle associations. The figure of death what was played as a crippled man (by Wojciech Pszoniak)who was escorted Schubert who wanted to get ride of him. It was one of themes of film and theme of Schubert's range of one's ideas. I suggest the film to everybody who wants to feel the era and feel the life sense of Franz Schubert who wants the life but feels the crippled man (death) behind himself.
  • werpu25 July 2007
    The series has been release in a 4 hour German only version called Notturno over here in Austria on DVD. And the Film is as good as I can remember the series, maybe even better, due to the middle part being cut into various pieces into the other parts which adds a lot.

    It is really a funny situation, the entire thing was a European co production with a mainly Austrian / German cast (Udo Samel to my knowledge was dubbed into the viennese accent due to being German) It was shown once, highly praised and then nothing anymore, I can remember one late night return of the series a few years ago which I unfortunately missed. Anyway, if you have the chance to watch this series, this is an absolute masterpiece of European cinema, I would rate it as high as some Tarkovskij movies and Fanny and Alexander in its importance.

    Mostly overlooked, but an absolute masterpiece which should deserve more publicity.

    Anyway if you understand German, then get this DVD, it is a special edition released in Austria and available currently in the stores for 10 Euros.
  • ochichornye24 December 2009
    Warning: Spoilers
    I too was deeply moved by the three-part TV-series in the late eighties and was delighted to find the release on DVD of the Director's cut of the cinema version, which I just watched. The Director's cut (entitled "Notturno") expands the original cinema version from three to four hours but divides it in two parts: "Love has lied" and "Winter journey". The English titles and credits are puzzling, since the DVD version is still German spoken without subtitles. As I remember it, the TV-series had three, neatly self-contained episodes. The first was about Schubert's release from hospital, followed by a cripple, and confrontation with his father. The second followed Schubert and friends on a country outing and contained the meeting with Strauss. The third pictured his last days at brother Ferdinand's home. In the Director's cut, part of the second episode is sandwiched in material from the first episode and the remaining part is sandwiched in material from the third episode. To me this distorts the beautiful narrative arch of the TV-series and gives the whole film a more fragmentary feeling (hence 9 points instead of 10).

    But this is still a wonderful film with a wonderful use of Schubert's music. Since so little is known of his personal life some of the details are bound to be fantasy. But they are credible in the context of what we do know and of the times in which he lived. The most powerful scenes (confrontation with father, blood-brotherhood with von Schober, meeting with Strauss, death scene) still stay with you long after the credits have faded.
  • Vagueness, so much vagueness in this wonderful film on a composer. Perhaps the finest film on any composer ever made. Schubert's circle of friends & his terribly unfortunate illnesses are heightened here in order to substantiate his brilliance against insurmountable odds. The vagueness I refer to is the stunningly original way this film is shot & performed. The noises, or rather the sounds of floorboards, children, conversation, insects all perform & contribute so that one is engrossed as if listening to one of Schubert's great masterworks from 1827/28. I have (as others here have stated) just a memory of this one-off shown film. I am grateful to have stumbled upon it that night, but like others here I know nothing when it comes to its whereabouts today? Anyway, if it was to return I'm almost certain that our present-day cringe worthy Classical Radio Stations will milk it (in terms of advertising) in a way which is totally unworthy of such a cinematic jewel.
  • on TV, a long time ago (when it came out) and was very compelled; and now I am watching the theatrical release, found in the local library. And I must say that it is a 'right under the skin' approach that hits perfectly. Everything fits. The cinematography is far out. There is not one 'son and so' shot. Not a moment wasted. Everything is fully loaded. Bigger than life. Beauty and meaning galore. The spare dialogue is straight to the point. The interpretations delicate. Bla Bla Bla. What can I say ... This movie makes you live/feel/breath every second of of the moments Schubert may have gone through (or not). Beautiful; equally suggestive and complying. It is like the skin of music.

    It is what "The perfume" aims at, but never reaches. So amazing.

    And yes, the foley work is more than excellent.