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Meeting Venus

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PG-13
1991

Meeting Venus is a 1991 film that revolves around the cultural, political and artistic challenges of producing an opera. Directed by István Szabó, the movie is set in Paris, where director Zoltán Székely (Niels Arestrup) is preparing an upcoming opera production of Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser. He struggles to put together an international cast and crew, as well as dealing with political and financial pressures from the various sponsors, nations, and cultural forces involved.

Glenn Close plays Helen, an American soprano who is brought in to play the lead role of Venus. Helen is making her opera debut, and it's a big one, with the upcoming production under scrutiny by many of the key players in the industry. Close is superb as Helen, starting out as a mellow and vulnerable character who, as the movie progresses, gains more confidence and comes to channel the energy and spirit of the character she is portraying.

The production hits several bumps when Székely is forced to comply with artistic and cultural mandates imposed by different stakeholders that require the opera to respect their own cultural sensitivities. For example, the opening night is delayed when the Japanese sponsor insists that Venus’s costume needs to be less revealing. Also, there is resentment from the East German backers, who claim that their theatre must be covered before rehearsals can begin because of socialist ideals.

Along with the various cultural pressures, the cast and crew are also dealing with language barriers, which lead to unforgettable and comical scenes, where misunderstandings occur, confusing everyone in a multilingual setting.

In this film, István Szabó skillfully raises the issue of the different approaches that different nations have when it comes to art, as illustrated by the different requirements imposed by the various nations. Germany insists that Wagner is a national treasure who needs to be honored, while Japan requires Venus's costume to be less revealing for cultural sensitivity reasons. Meanwhile, Great Britain insists on having English subtitles so that the audience will understand every single word.

Throughout the movie, the crew and cast attempt to overcome these challenges, even with their vast differences, as they all come together, yielding themselves into something special. They forge bonds beyond mere collaboration, becoming a family of sorts, as they help one another overcome their fears and insecurities - ultimately becoming a cohesive and successful communicative team.

Kiri Te Kanawa, the renowned New Zealand soprano, gives a flawless performance as herself. She helps conduct the rehearsals and has a small part in the production. It is her serene and reassuring presence that helps to keep the cast going through some quite dramatic circumstances.

The soundtrack of the film is exceptionally good, with the presence of Kiri Te Kanawa, and the orchestra and choir are all fantastic. Fans of classical music will particularly enjoy the breathtaking performances, adding an additional musical element beyond just the storyline. All of the significant operatic works featured in the movie are beautifully staged, with the final production of Tannhäuser being visually stunning and adding to the overall enjoyment of the picture.

In conclusion, Meeting Venus is a magnificent tribute to the inner workings of the artistic world, with all its colors, passions, and demands. The film is not just about the production of an opera, but it is also an exploration of cultural diversity, artistic egos, and international collaboration, all skillfully handled by the director. It is a timeless and enjoyable movie that has aged admirably, and remains a true masterpiece in its own right.

Meeting Venus is a Comedy, Drama, Romance movie released in 1991. It has a runtime of 119 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 6.6..

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Where can I stream Meeting Venus movie online? Meeting Venus is available to watch and stream, buy on demand, download at Kanopy, Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD, Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Meeting Venus for a limited time or purchase the movie for downloading.

6.6/10
Director
Istvan Szabo
Stars
Glenn Close, Niels Arestrup, Kiri Te Kanawa
Also starring Niels Arestrup
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