A Song to Remember

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A Song to Remember is a 1945 Columbia Pictures biographical film which tells a fictionalised life story of Polish pianist and composer Frédéric Chopin. Directed by Charles Vidor, the film starred Cornel Wilde (as Chopin), Merle Oberon (as George Sand), Paul Muni (as Józef Elsner), Stephen Bekassy (as Franz Liszt), and Nina Foch.

Contents

Plot

Vidor romanticizes Chopin's patriotism in the film, which was produced during World War II. Chopin, played by Cornel Wilde, is first presented to the audience as a child prodigy playing a piece by Mozart, but suddenly starts to bang on the piano keys when he notices out the window that Polish people are being taken prisoners by the Russian authorities. The film also shows Chopin taking part in secret meetings to work on saving Poland with his young friends. Vidor depicts patriotism as a major motive for Chopin playing the piano. He attends a secret meeting instead of showing up on time for his concert in front of a count and distinguished guests. In addition, when he finally performs at the concert, he stops playing when he sees the Russian Governor of Poland enter the room. Chopin stands up and announces, "I do not perform for Russian butchers." He storms out of the room as his famous Revolutionary Étude starts in the background. Before leaving Poland for Paris, Chopin clutches Polish earth in his hands. When he arrives in Paris, he says: "I’m thinking of my people back home. You see, there was a purpose in coming to Paris."

The first work of Chopin's that is heard in Paris is his "Heroic" Polonaise, a song for Poland. The appearance of George Sand, played by Merle Oberon, alters Chopin's life. Vidor portrays George Sand as a disruptive figure in Chopin's life, who seduces him and distracts him from Poland. At the end of the film, he gives a passionate concert tour around Europe, despite his failing health. In one of his concerts, Chopin starts bleeding.

Ironically, when this film was produced in 1944, Poland was suffering from a similar fate as it had when Chopin was alive—Poland was under foreign control once again (under Germans) during World War II.

The pianist José Iturbi played the piano music, and also orchestrated part of the B minor Sonata for the scene when Chopin and George Sand arrive in Mallorca.

Reception

A Song to Remember was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Cornel Wilde), Best Cinematography, Color, Best Film Editing, Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture, Best Sound, Recording and Best Writing, Original Story.

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