Spring Symphony (Frühlingssinfonie)

Written and directed by Peter Schamoni


Released in 1983 ~ German language with subtitles.

This film tells the story of the youthful acquaintance and subsequent love affair of Robert Schumann and Clara Wieck, a love affair which was vehemently opposed by Clara's father Friedrich, leading to a courtroom showdown over whether the two would be permitted to marry. The film is a bit schizophrenic in its conception; on the one hand, in the time-honored German gründlich fashion, it painstakingly follows what is known of the historical events. On the other hand, there is a certain amount of gratuitous Regietheater speculation about the relationship between Clara and her father, which takes the form of scenes in the film which hint at an incestuous relationship.

The strong points of the film are the performances by Nastassja Kinski as Clara, and Rolf Hoppe as her father, both of whom persuasively convey the powerful and complex emotions of their respective characters. The other actors, including Herbert Grönemeyer as Schumann, are passable. The period scenery and costumes are lovely, and to add a touch of musical star power, Gidon Kremer is featured in a non-speaking (but violin-playing) role as Paganini. One aspect of the film which will annoy Schumann aficionados is the clumsy editing of Schumann's compositions in the soundtrack; fragments are occasionally cobbled together in a nonsensical way. André Heller, who portrays Mendelssohn, also conducts his orchestra in a most un-Mendelssohnian fashion.

However, the story is a compelling one, and despite the flaws in this movie, the inherent drama in the tale carries the day.

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