Top 7: Music films and series

Mozart in the jungle and percussionists who go astray – the best films and series about music.

Music plays the main role in these films and series: seven tips from the Elbphilharmonie team.

1. The Big Bang theory of music :Mozart in the Jungle (2014–2018)

»What the Big Bang theory does for physics, Mozart in the Jungle does for music.«

Die Zeit

What’s it about? A series about classical music? Doesn’t sound so sexy! Nonetheless, »Mozart in the Jungle« managed to reach an amazingly wide public over no fewer than four seasons. It’s actually a lot of fun to watch sweet-talking Latino Rodrigo De Souza (obviously inspired by Gustavo Dudamel) stirring up the New York Symphony Orchestra as its new director of music. He plays opposite the young oboist Hailey, who is trying to gain a foothold in the music world.

Why watch it? Anyone who knows his way around the classical-music sector a bit will be familiar with some of its eccentricities. And if that doesn’t apply to you, you’ll still enjoy the high entertainment factor. Die Zeit wrote at the time: »What the Big Bang Theory does for physics, Mozart in the Jungle does for music.« In 2016 it won a Golden Globe as the best series.

Watch it here: Prime Video (four seasons)

Trailer »Mozart in the Jungle«





2. Become a ballet dancer in just 6 weeks :Rhythm Is It! (2004)

What’s it about? 250 young people whose life has been more of a roller-coaster ride than a bed of roses take part in an experiment set up by the Berlin Philharmonic: under the direction of dance teacher Royston Maldoom they want to learn to dance Stravinsky’s ballet »Le sacre du printemps« in the space of six weeks. The goal: to perform it for a large audience. The challenge: the youngsters don’t have much interest in classical music and dance. So there are a few personal and interpersonal obstacles to be overcome during rehearsals.

Why watch it? Moving documentary about the power of music and dance in education.

Favourite quote: »Music is not a luxury. It’s a necessity and people need it like the air they breathe and the water they drink.« (Sir Simon Rattle)

Trailer »Rhythm is it!«

»Music is not a luxury. It’s a necessity and people need it like the air they breathe and the water they drink.«

Sir Simon Rattle

3. In love in Dublin :Sing Street (2016)

What’s it about? »Sing Street« is a wonderful coming-of-age film about the 15-year-old Connor in Dublin. Flung from a private school into everyday life at a state school, he escapes his life as an outsider and immerses himself in British music of the 1980s. To impress the unattainable Raphina, he offers her the chance to play in his music video. There’s just one problem: he doesn’t have a band yet, nor any songs. So he gets down to work…

Why watch it? A delightful film, perfect viewing for a rainy evening. So get your hair backcombed, open an Irish beer and enjoy »Sing Street«!

General verdict: Melancholy meets humour!

Bonus points: Pure 80s feeling with hairdos, clothes and especially the music of bands like The Cure, Duran Duran, The Clash or Spandau Ballet, whose style director John Carney uses in the soundtrack.

Trailer »Sing Street«

Watch here: Prime Video / Joyn / Sky

(Assistent der Künstl. Betriebsdirektorin)

(Geschäftsführerin Freundeskreis Elbphilharmonie + Laeiszhalle e.V.)

4. Touching! :Wie im Himmel (2005)

What’s it about? »Wie im Himmel« (As It Is In Heaven) paints a delightful portrait of a Swedish community and its inhabitants. The central figure is the celebrated conductor Daniel Daréus, who returns to the loneliness of his home village after suffering a heart attack, and ends up taking charge of the local children’s choir in an unconventional way.

What’s it really about? Finding personal happiness in a roundabout way. It’s about the power of music to bring people together and help them find themselves.

Bonus point: Stefan Nilsson’s soundtrack! Reduced melodies played by the solo cello or piano blossom into big orchestral passages and sparkle alongide choral pieces.

Watch here: Prime Video / Joyn / Sky

5. Psychological duel :Whiplash (2014)

What’s it about? Percussionist Andrew joins an ambitionous jazz band at his music college, whose leader Terence applies harsh, even sadistic methods. A gripping psychological duel unfolds, excellently acted by the good-humoured Miles Teller and especially by J.K. Simmons.

What’s it really about? Talent, obsession, demands and encouragement. And about the question of what end justifies what means.

Bonus point: Loads of good music: in addition to the title piece »Whiplash« there is jazz standard »Caravan«, for example, played by actors who are first and foremost good musicians – and that creates a really authentic atmosphere.

Tip: The film really is better in the English original…

Trailer »Whiplash« (auf Englisch)

Watch here: Prime Video / Itunes / Sky



6. No-budget film with Oscar potential :Once (2006)

What’s it about? A street musician – played by indie-folk singer Glen Hansard – earns his money repairing vacuum cleaners, but he dreams of a life as a professional musician. Then he meets a young immigrant girl who plays the piano …

Why watch it? One of the loveliest music films of all time. The little no-budget production from Ireland about a Dublin street musician and a Czech pianist has its heart in the right place and celebrates the power of music without gimmicks. Commentary from none other than Steven Spielberg: »This little film gave me enough inspiration to take me through the whole year.« Sounds like the right film for 2020.

Bonus point: The song »Falling Slowly« – written by lead actors Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová – even won an Oscar in 2008.

Trailer »Once«

»Dieser kleine Film hat mir genügend Inspiration geschenkt, um damit durchs ganze Jahr zu kommen.«

Steven Spielberg

7. Evergreen against the winter blues :Dirty Dancing (1987)

What’s it about? Francis, known as »Baby«, goes to a holiday resort with her family, where she falls in love with dance teacher Johnny. He teaches her to dance, but the family doesn’t approve of their relationship.

General verdict: Seriously romantic and rebellious. »I was a teenager myself when the film opened and I wanted to do battle with every convention. It goes without saying that I identified directly with Baby.«

Extra: »Terrfic dance scenes! You want to join in the dancing straight away. To this day, I just need to hear the music, and there’s an extra spring in my step.«

Trailer »Dirty Dancing«

Watch here: Prime Video / Itunes / Microsoft




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