Access Reel Reviews: Nannerl, la soeur de Mozart (Nannerl, Mozart’s Sister)

Access Reel Reviews: Nannerl, la soeur de Mozart (Nannerl, Mozart’s Sister)

Set in the 1760’s Nannerl, la soeur de Mozart, follows the Mozart family through their difficult and long trip through Europe as a musical group. Leopold Mozart, the father, leads the family with a strict hand and an obsession with his son ‘s extreme talent, Wolfgang Mozart is his prized possession and he pushes both his children to live up to his expectations. Wolfgang’s sister Nannerl, is the focus of the film, she was an immensely talented individual who was overshadowed by her brother and held back by her gender, throughout the film you witness her growing from a precocious child to a woman finding her place in a society that strangles her talents with the burden of social etiquette. Starring Marie Féret, Marc Barbé and David Moreau. Directed by René Féret.

This film was very unusual. Based on the subject matter you would presume it would be soaked in some sort of extravagance, however, a lot of the film was shot hand held and the lighting was always very dim. This created a very realistic atmosphere with the pretence of glamour in the costumes and some of the sets, but with the realization of how the world was, how dirty and dark it was back then. With caked on makeup hiding their imperfections, layers of clothing giving the appearance of wealth and a powerful sense of etiquette to mask their depressions. It wasn’t what I expected but I was pleased that the era was not the focus of this movie.

I adore Mozart’s music and there were some beautiful pieces of music in this movie, however they did use the harpsichord for the majority of the film. I don’t hate the harpsichord but I do like piano a lot better, I felt that it detached me from the emotion of it and it disappointed me. There is one scene where some of the music she was able to compose with the help of the Dauphine, is played by a small group of violinist. Breathe taking. I do not know if that piece of music was actually composed by Nannerl Mozart because reports say that Wolfgang Mozart praised Nannerl’s compositions later in life but none survived. Which brings forth the question of how much of the film was historically accurate?

It is true, according to scholars, that Nannerl was fiercely obedient to her father. The film attempts to instill some rebellion into the life of Nannerl, It is true she resented her father for never acknowledging her talent as a composer (even though that may have been to protect her from disappointment from an uncaring society) there is no evidence that she ever rebelled to the degree she did in the film. She did briefly move away from her family but then came back and surrendered the rest of her life to her father’s will. Such a mysterious character, it is very interesting to muse how she came to the decision to give up her individuality to honor her father and her brother’s work. This film is a very sad and bleak look at gender discrimination, we look at it through our own perspective, but it is theirs that we should see. We cannot truly understand the reasoning of such a god-fearing society so we must depict a woman’s struggle to find her place in it rather than her acceptance of the inevitable. I am pleased in the way this film ended, I was left with a deeper understanding after I had forgotten all my pre determined opinions on the gender roles in my society, how a talented girl could be lost forever.

If the film had not included a love interest, gender rearranging, heart felt compositions and the actress’s absolutely beautiful voice, this film would have been much too bleak. I enjoyed it for what it was.

I give Nannerl, la soeur de Mozart, 3 and a half stars.