Review: ‘The Composers’ Specials Bizet’s Dream’

Filmed in Prague by Devine Entertainment Corp. for HBO. Producers, Richard Mozer, David Devine; director, David Devine; story by Devine, Mozer; script, Heather Conkie; editor, Gordon McClellan; camera, Barry Stone; designer, Cameron Porteous; music , Georges Bizet (from "Carmen,""L'Arlesienne,""Jeux d'enfants" and the Symphony No. 1). TX:Cast: Maurice Godin, Brittany Madgett, Catherine Barroll, Yseult Lendvai, Vlastimil Harapes, Sally Cahill, Jackie Harris, Joan Heney, Christina Chokas, R.H. Thomson. The notion that passable media entertainment might be concocted out of telling the truth about classical composers and their music remains elusive. Worse treatments of great music may have been concocted than Devine Entertainment's "Bizet's Dream," on the heels of their 1993 "Beethoven Lives Upstairs" and equally insulting to subject matter and to the intelligence of music lovers present or potential. None come quickly to mind, however. Never mind that the actual "Carmen" premiere was a fiasco -- rather than the triumph shown here -- and that the real-life Bizet died soon after. What is more irritating is an overall patronizing attitude toward the arts: MTV meets the Muse.

Filmed in Prague by Devine Entertainment Corp. for HBO. Producers, Richard Mozer, David Devine; director, David Devine; story by Devine, Mozer; script, Heather Conkie; editor, Gordon McClellan; camera, Barry Stone; designer, Cameron Porteous; music , Georges Bizet (from “Carmen,””L’Arlesienne,””Jeux d’enfants” and the Symphony No. 1). TX:Cast: Maurice Godin, Brittany Madgett, Catherine Barroll, Yseult Lendvai, Vlastimil Harapes, Sally Cahill, Jackie Harris, Joan Heney, Christina Chokas, R.H. Thomson. The notion that passable media entertainment might be concocted out of telling the truth about classical composers and their music remains elusive. Worse treatments of great music may have been concocted than Devine Entertainment’s “Bizet’s Dream,” on the heels of their 1993 “Beethoven Lives Upstairs” and equally insulting to subject matter and to the intelligence of music lovers present or potential. None come quickly to mind, however. Never mind that the actual “Carmen” premiere was a fiasco — rather than the triumph shown here — and that the real-life Bizet died soon after. What is more irritating is an overall patronizing attitude toward the arts: MTV meets the Muse.

Godin plays a cranky, distracted Bizet; 13-year-old Madgett mouths her lines with understandable disbelief. The film is dedicated to “Auguste Rodin, Claude Monet, Vincente Minnelli and Georges Bizet.” Honest.

The Composers' Specials Bizet's Dream

(Thurs. (14), 7-8 a.m., HBO)

Production

It is writers David Devine and Richard Mozer's conceit in their new "Composers' Specials" series to inject fictional children into the lives of actual composers -- thus creating some kind of bridge between high art and young sensibilities (the way Billy and Betty used to chase cattle rustlers with Tom Mix in medialand's simpler years -- or was it Jimmy and Jane?). This time it is young Michelle (Brittany Madgett) who looks in on Bizet (Maurice Godin) in the throes of creating "Carmen," and matches her own troubles against the sad lot of the opera's Don Jose.
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