"Musical Sacrifice"

Content: -1 Discretion advised for older children.

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What You Need To Know:

MOZART’S SISTER is a fictionalized French movie about. . . Mozart’s sister, Maria Anna, or Nanna for short. Apparently, Nanna was as accomplished a musician as her famous brother, Wolfgang, and even wrote a few compositions early in her life, though none survived. The movie opens on their story when she was 14 and 15, five years older than Wolfgang. Nanna clearly loves her family dearly but chafes at her father’s complete focus on Wolfgang career. The movie tells what happens during Nanna and Wolfgang’s trips to Paris to perform before at the French court. Nanna encounters the king’s son and one of his daughters, who lives isolated in a nearby convent and eventually decides to become a nun.

Despite some flat moments, MOZART’S SISTER is superbly acted, but the direction is matter-of-fact and sometimes slow. It has a Romantic, feminist worldview that opposes Nanna’s decision to forego her music career to serve her father’s desires to promote Wolfgang and his career. At that time, most girls of marriageable age like Nanna did not have musical careers. Caution is advised for MOZART’S SISTER because of the feminism and some sensuous moments.


(Ro, Fe, CC, BB, V, S, A, M) Light Romantic, feminist worldview with revisionist liberal history about constraints on women during the time of Mozart with, however, strong positive Christian elements including prayer and devotion to God in a Roman Catholic setting, though movie clearly sides against the decision of two women to submit to social conventions, to a father’s arguably chauvinist preference for his son’s musical abilities over his daughter’s and to a perception that God wants them to take a more submissive role than men, but not in an overbearing way that’s stringently Anti-Christian or Anti-Catholic, that attacks personal faith itself, or that attacks basic Christian doctrines regarding Christology, soteriology or the Bible (which is not really mentioned), plus strong moral elements where it is clear that the Mozart family shares great love for one another; no foul language; light violence when teenage heir to throne suddenly kicks out teenage girl visiting him; implied sex between married couple in bed and some sensuous moments between two teenagers but no kissing or anything else happens and boy suddenly kicks her out of his private chambers; no nudity; alcohol use; no smoking; and, daughter chafes at some of father’s strict rules and focus on her brother and his career, but she later submits, though movie suggests this was not good even if it led to her brother’s magnificent career as one of the worlds greatest classical composer, if not THE greatest.

More Detail:

MOZART’S SISTER is a French movie that decries past social conventions regarding the freedom of women. Despite its Romantic, feminist worldview, however, it’s more of a reformist movie calling for reform of conventions than a revolutionary one calling for abolishment of religion, church, family, and other institutions, as a more Marxist worldview might do. It also shows people’s sincere devotion to faith and family. In fact, looking back on the movie, its harshest criticism actually seems to be reserved for the decadent French monarchy, especially the last two kings before the French Revolution.

The movie opens with Leopold Mozart and his wife, Anna-Maria, traveling in their carriage in the snowy woods, headed for Versailles. There, Mozart’s young son, Wolfgang, 12, and his daughter, Maria Anna or Nanna as she’s often called in the movie, 14, are scheduled to give a concert before King Louis XV. One of the carriage’s axles is just about to break, so the family takes refuge at a convent.

At the convent, the Mozarts learn that three of the decadent king’s daughters have been sent to the convent. Nanna becomes fast friends with one of them, a funny girl named Louise. While they wait for the carriage to be fixed, Leopold orders his daughter to stop playing the violin, even though she’s just as good as her younger brother, because the violin is not a fit instrument for a woman.

Louise asks Nanna to carry a secret letter to a boy she likes, who happens to be the son of the French court’s music master. The son is a friend to the king’s teenage son, Louis XVI, however, who cannot be seen with a girl. So, Nanna has to dress up as a male teenager in order to hand off the letter. When she does, the young Louis is impressed with Nanna’s own musical skills. Thus, Nanna also becomes friends with Louis, who asks her to compose something for him. Nanna fulfills the request and admits to Louis that she’s a girl, but Louis keeps her secret and has the court musicians perform her composition.

History tells us that Mozart’s sister was, indeed, an excellent musician. According to letters from her brother, Nanna had written several musical compositions, but none have survived. [SPOILER ALERT] The movie tells viewers that Nanna eventually burns the one composition she writes and devotes herself entirely to her father and her brother’s music. In fact, as the movie notes before the end credits, after her brother’s death, Nanna spent the rest of her long life promoting her brother’s music, which is often called the greatest music that’s ever been written.

Despite some flat moments, MOZART’S SISTER is superbly acted, but the direction otherwise is a little slow and matter-of-fact. It has a Romantic, feminist worldview that opposes the decision of Nanna to forego her own music career to serve her father’s desires to promote Wolfgang and his career. At the same time, however, it shows the great love within the Mozart family. The movie’s worldview also implicitly opposes Louise’s final speech to Nanna. [SPOILER ALERT] In this scene, Louise tells Nanna that she’s decide to become a nun. She also tells Nanna that she believes God wants her and Louise to serve Him, Louise by becoming a nun and Nanna by acceding to her father’s wishes to give up her own career for her brilliant brother Wolfgang.

The movie’s ending implies that these are sad choices, because they appear to stifle the self-expression of both Louise and Nanna. However, the movie doesn’t attack everything else that God, Christianity, the church, society, or the holy institution of the family stand for. Ultimately, the movie places more blame on Louis XVI, who breaks Nanna’s heart by ultimately rejecting and humiliating her, and banishing her from his presence. Thus, Louis succumbs to the decadence of his father, which earlier he had condemned. Also, in the end, the movie suggests it is this betrayal that finally causes Nanna to decide to forego her own career and burn her composition.

Though MOZART’S SISTER doesn’t show any sexual immorality, it does mention the French king’s habit of bedding other women not his wife. It also implies that the king’s teenage son is sensuously attracted to Nanna. Finally, there’s one scene that implies Nanna’s father and mother are having a liaison under the covers while the family sleeps in the same cramped bedroom. Because of that, and the humiliation Nanna suffers at the hands of the king’s son, MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for older children for MOZART’S SISTER, especially pre-adolescents. In reality, only adults probably would be interested in seeing this movie anyway.

God warns the Jews in 1 Samuel 8:1-20 about the problems of establishing a monarchy with a king. He tells them such a system will lead to tyranny, slavery and destruction. Also, although the Bible tells wives to submit to their husbands and daughters to submit to their parents, it also orders husbands to love their wives and give themselves up for them just as Jesus Christ loved and sacrificed Himself for the church (Ephesians 5:25). And, Ephesians 5:21 says, “Submit to one another.” Thus, the Word of God shows that social and personal relationships have a reciprocal nature that limits the behavior of all parties involved. Furthermore, all these passages suggest that people are not supposed to submit to other people if those people ask one to do something evil or sinful. Thus, a father cannot order a child to steal from someone else, and a child doesn’t have to obey such an order. Also, a husband cannot order his wife to sleep with another man.