歷史電影的準確性經常備受質疑，而電影製作隨之而來便是誇張的手法。只是，作為一名音樂歷史學家，我必須強調，以下 3 套電影準確地呈現歷史事件，卻往往被觀眾和評論家忽視。
1. 指揮家的抉擇（Taking Sides），2001
觀點偏頗、主角在納粹時代的行徑欠清晰、由夏菲基圖（Harvey Keitel）飾演的美國文化部官員表現過火，都成為評論家大肆抨擊的原因。但這些影評家不理解的是，現實中的福特萬格勒，的確被苛刻而自大的文化部官員不公地對待 —— 他們知道福特萬格勒實非納粹一分子，卻仍然審訊他，想藉此告訴德國人，國家的政治和文化景象都已不再一樣。對外人來說，基圖的演出或者壓逼感大得太可憎，但任何了解史實的人都會認同，這樣的表演實在恰到好處及準確地反映出歷史現實。
2. 香奈兒的情人（Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky），2009
這並非一套音樂電影，主題圍繞兩名 20 世紀藝術巨星的虛構愛情故事 —— 俄羅斯作曲家史特拉汶斯基（Igor Stravinsky）與香奈兒（Coco Chanel）—— 以及兩人如何成為彼此的靈感泉源。雖然電影有大半與音樂無關，但電影以史特拉汶斯基的芭蕾作品「春之祭」首映為開場，而該幕的真實性實在令人讚嘆。
雖然這套電影其他部分平平無奇，但開場這幕實在把觀眾帶到 1913 年的香榭麗舍劇院，猶如親歷音樂史上其中一個最重要和最具象徵性的情景。
3. 鋼琴戰曲（The Pianist），2002
波蘭籍的鋼琴家暨作曲家史匹曼（Władysław Szpilman）是 20 世紀最優秀的音樂家之一。他能逃過納粹大屠殺，實在有賴猶太區警察、友人以及德國軍官歐森菲德（Wilhelm Adalbert Hosenfeld）等人仗義幫忙。他在 1946 年出版的自傳，鉅細無遺地描寫二戰期間在波蘭被佔領時的生活景象；傑出但亦不太光彩的著名導演波蘭斯基（Roman Polanski）就把它變成了一套引人入勝的戰爭片。
電影忠於史實，把史匹曼家族、猶太音樂家、以及波蘭猶太人的掙扎完整呈現之餘，亦展示出納粹的殘暴不仁。電影的細節及服裝設計均仔細呈現 1940 年代波蘭的面貌，而飾演史匹曼的艾哲倫保迪（Adrien Brody）的真誠演出，以及引人入勝的攝影手法一同成就了一套絕妙的電影。
蕭邦充滿深層含義的鋼琴音樂，包括「G 小調第一號敘事曲」、「華麗的大波蘭舞曲」、以及「升 C 小調第 20 號夜曲」，在整部電影中都充當非常重要的角色。這位波蘭史上最重要的作曲家，透過作品為歷經苦難的史匹曼帶來勇氣、能屈能伸的精神、以及最為重要的求生意志。
The Finest Music History Movies
The accuracy of historical movies have often been questioned, and I do agree that exaggeration, dramatisation and amplification are common elements in these productions. However, as a music historian, I ought to say that there are three films that depicted musical events in history with utmost accuracy, and they are frequently unnoticed and unappreciated by film critics and audiences alike.
1. Taking Sides（2001）
During the Third Reich, conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, then Principal Conductor of the Berliner Philharmoniker, defended many Jewish musicians and avant-garde composers from prosecution, but was also considered a puppet of the Nazis and their cultural policies. Taking Sides is set in the Denazification period in post-World War II Germany, when the Allies attempted to rid the country of all remnants of Nazism. Furtwängler was charged with serving the Nazis, and the film focuses on the interrogation he received at the hands of the American Military Government’s cultural officers, who did all they could to forestall the resumption of Furtwängler’s career.
Film critics largely criticised the film, especially the lack of a balanced argument throughout, the absence of clarity and information on Furtwängler’s actions under the Nazis as well as the ‘over the top’ performance of Harvey Keitel, who played the vile American cultural officer in charge of Furtwängler’s Denazification. What the critics failed to recognise is that in reality, Furtwängler was indeed poorly and unfairly treated by the arrogant and draconian American cultural officers, who were aware that Furtwängler was never a Nazi, but still tried him. This was aimed at showing the Germans that their politics and culture had changed. Keitel’s performance might well be seen as despicable and too oppressing for outsiders, but anyone with knowledge of this historical period would only find his acting ‘en pointe’.
However ironic this may sound, it must be recognised that in post-World War II occupied Berlin, the Soviet Union, widely considered an authoritarian state, implemented much more liberal and lenient Denazification policies on the German musical scene than the United States, which prided herself as a world-leading democracy.
2. Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky（2009）
This is not a movie about music, but one that focuses on the largely fictional love story between two leading artists of the Twentieth Century – the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky and the French designer Coco Chanel – and how they inspired each other. While the majority of the movie had nothing to do with music history, I can point out that the opening scene, which shows the premiere of Stravinsky’s ballet The Rite of Spring in 1913, is portrayed with breathtaking accuracy and veracity.
Stravinsky’s experimentation in dissonance, rhythm and tonality, as well as the avant-garde style of the composition, greatly divided the audiences. There were uproars and demonstrations among the audiences, with some laughing derisively at the music, some leaving the concert venue with great disapproval and some yelling their sentiments resoundingly. The conservative and wealthy audience members engaged in verbal and physical altercations with the groups that championed new, modern and unconventional cultures, and police intervention was required to separate these two warring factions. Furthermore, the ballet dancers were also largely unable to hear the orchestra, due to the noises and commotions among the audiences, which required choreographer Vaslav Nijinsky to shout the step numbers from the stage wings. All these events are meticulously and comprehensively presented in the film, and I found it almost impossible to pick out a single historical error.
The rest of the movie was unremarkable, but the opening scene seemingly immersed movie-goers into the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in 1913, allowing them to relive one of the most crucial and fiery moments in music history.
3. The Pianist（2002）
Polish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman, one of the finest musicians of his generation, survived the Warsaw Ghetto and the Holocaust with the help of friends, the Jewish Ghetto Police and a German army captain, Wilhelm Adalbert Hosenfeld. He wrote a compelling autobiography in 1946 detailing his life in occupied Poland during the Second World War, which was turned into a riveting war film by the distinguished yet disgraced director Roman Polanski.
The film truthfully shows the struggles of the Szpilman family, fellow Polish Jews and Jewish musicians as well as the brutalities and cold-bloodedness of the Nazis. Both the production and costume designs strictly reflect the happenings in Poland in early 1940s, while the thoughtfully impassioned performance of Adrien Brody (who played Szpilman) and the enthralling cinematography make a profound contribution to the brilliance of the film.
The contemplative piano music of Frédéric Chopin (including his Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Grande Polonaise brillante and Nocturne No. 20 in C-sharp minor), the most notable Polish composer in history, played a dominant role in The Pianist, providing courage, resilience and above all, the will to live, to Szpilman during the most difficult period of his life.