Mozart’s Sister (2010) is a deeply intriguing film regarding the raped promise of Maria Anna Mozart, who was as talented as her brother, Wolfgang Mozart, in her abilities to both play and compose music; but was disallowed to act on her abilities for her own self, due to her gender. The film begins with the family on their way to visit with French nobility in order to exhibit Mozart and his sister, nicknamed Nannerl.
The film is not all dark, as there is constant revelation of everyday happenstance from scene to scene. For instance, the carriage wheel breaks while they travel and this causes the family to seek temporary shelter at a nunnery, before they reach their final destination at a court. While the father is deciding on travel plans he stares at a map with spectacles on, a moment such as any family on a modern car trip may relate to, and both son and daughter begin to giggle viciously at him for appearing so dorky. The father takes the spectacles off and admits retreat at his own childrens' humor.
Though the mood changes, as soon as Nannerl begins to play her violin for entertainment and comfort during the long trip, as part of a never ending series of trips. The father, Leopold, quickly puts an end to her talents with abrupt anger and sharp words. This early series of scenes sets the stage for the film: it is a mix of psychological intrigue as to what causes people to end their own childrens’ talents combined with everyday life that carries on with humor and sensibility regardless of any overriding darkness. It is all the more interesting due to the details of French court life during the era (1700s).
Nannerl and her brother are friends to a certain extent despite her father’s overt favoritism toward the brother. Mozart is coldly aloof to Nannerl’s difficulties in establishing herself as a singular person, independent of the tight and controlling cohesive unit the father maintains. To Mozart, it appears it is a man's world, and his sister's feelings matter little anyway.
The mother is entirely aware of Nannerl’s true talents as is the father. This is revealed in a scene whereby the father goes through Nannerl’s notes and the mother, Anna Maria, asks Leopold, if Nannerl at least has talent. The father replies, “Did you ever doubt it?” The parents know they are crushing their daughter’s genius sensibilities but have accepted it as their rightful way as parents. Nannerl is allowed outlets for creative display, but what becomes of it, the reader has to view the film to know.
By Sarah Bahl