films 101+ Best Movies About & Featuring Classical Music  

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List Rules Vote up your favorite films that feature true classical music or the classical music-making process--or have a memorable scene using classical music (ex: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, etc). No live performances unless documentary form; no musicals please.

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There are some films that set the viewer on fire for the classical music of the past few hundreds of years, and also some pictures that utilize classical music so effectively that the film would be much less without it.  Whether it's the main theme to Platoon featuring Barber's Adagio for Strings, the documentary showing a classical composer's works in the hands of a major artist (Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould), an animated catalog of classical greats (Fantasia 2000 or the original Fantasia), or (in some rare cases) a film that celebrates the IDEA of the classical world and its tools (The Red Violin, featuring the famous violinist Joshua Bell), there are so many movies to list.

Remember: classical music would be considered something that spans between medieval, baroque, classical, romantic period, and modern classical.  Please, no jazz, blues, or folk unless it was incorporated into the piece by the classical composer.  Please try to avoid live performances, though they are highly commendable, from certain concerts, operas or ballets.  Search for films that exceed the performance and produce a film-worthy experience, not just a visit to the symphony, ballet or opera.  Avoid recorded "live" performances that would just generally be on a repeat performance on PBS, no matter how good.

Sample composers include the obvious: the Bachs, Handel, Mozart, Brahms, Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff, Scarlatti, etc.

 

Immortal Beloved is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 101+ Best Movies About & Featuring Classical Music
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Okay, so Gary Oldman is the male actor who most deserves an Oscar and has never received one.  This film is part of that fan despair.  His Beethoven is fluently human, humane, irascible, delightful, passionate, stubborn and tender. 

Co-stars include Jeroen Krabbe as Anton Schindler, Beethoven's documented copyist and assistant, as well as Isabella Rossellini and Valeria Golino.

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Florence Foster Jenkins is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 101+ Best Movies About & Featuring Classical Music
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Wow she couldn't sing but she sure took on a great deal of challenging opera.  Meryl Streep plays the ultimately very relatable though deluded wealthy songstress, Florence Foster Jenkins.  Who says you have to be good at music to share your joy??

Also starring Hugh Grant.

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The Shawshank Redemption is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 101+ Best Movies About & Featuring Classical Music
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You weren't going to forget the unforgettable scene that Tim Robbins' character plays for an entire prison yard?  For a prisoner doomed to life-in-prison, it's an odd goal to corner the PA system for a mega-penitentiary just to play "The Letter Duet" (Canzonetta sull'aria) from Mozart's Marriage of Figaro, but Tim Robbins does it--and the emotional results among the prisoners below the window are still refreshing to watch.  The explanation for his friend's odd behavior is best left to Morgan Freeman, who plays Robbins' best friend and fellow-inmate.  If you haven't seen Shawshank yet, consider it now.

Starring: Tim Robbins, Morgan Freeman, Tim Gunton, Clancy Brown, James Whitmore, William Sadler and Brian Libby.

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Moonrise Kingdom is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 101+ Best Movies About & Featuring Classical Music
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A hyperactive quirky movie inspired throughout by the works of the British classical composer Benjamin Britten, whose most famous piece has raised generations of musicians: A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, based on a theme by Henry Purcell, the grandfather of English classical composition.  Also featured in an adorable set of scenes is a musical about Noah's Ark by Britten.

Stars include: Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, Jason Schwartzman, Lucas Hedges and Bob Balaban as the cutest narrator ever.

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