Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Filmed in 1941, Christian-Jacque's La Symphonie Fantastique at last attained an American release in 1947. In an elaborate, almost orgiastic manner, the film details the life and times of 19th century composer Hector Berlioz, here played by Jean-Louis Barrault. Expansively dividing his valuable time between his music, his friends (including Balzac and Delacroix) and his many women, Berlioz illustrates Christian-Jaque's thesis that there is always grandeur in genius. The film's highlight is Berlioz' feverish creation of the title composition, which is staged in a florid manner reminscent of Disney's animated Fantasia. Alas, the English-language prints of Symphonie Fantastique were cursed with a substandard soundtrack, rendering virtually inaudible the brilliant orchestrations of Berlioz' works by the Paris Conservatory Orchestra.