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A movie directed by Fredi M. Murer

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Giving Back the Gift: The World of the Prodigy

  • Nov 29, 2007
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VITUS is a film from Switzerland that has garnered many accolades and nearly won an Oscar. And yes, it is that good! Written by Fredi M. Murer, Peter Luisi, and Lukas B. Suter and directed by Murer, VITUS explores the life of a child genius, a lad who from the age of five is obviously gifted in that he can play Bach et al after only a few months lessons and is able to read books and understand concepts that make his stance in a regular kindergarten class untenable. But the film is less about the gifts of a child prodigy than it is a story of how a genius child longs for a normal childhood. It is in the telling of the story that the audience is privileged to discover the joys and trials in a child's view of being extraordinary.

Vitus - played at age 6 by Fabrizio Borsani and at age 12 by Teo Gheorghiu - is referred to as a little Mozart by his parents Helen (Julika Jenkins) and Leo (Urs Jucker), and by the family friends who are amazed at Vitus' gift as a pianist. But as is often the case with gifted children, they are overprotected, not allowed to engage in the normal activities of being a kid. Vitus finds consolation in his grandfather (a brilliant Bruno Ganz) whose creative energy includes Vitus in his longing to fly and to build complex machines. While Vitus continues his love for the piano he also takes risks with his beloved grandfather. Vitus' intelligence serves him well in analyzing the complexities of his father's job and his grandfather's role in that position, and it is his genius that leads the family in a direction no one thought possible. And of course with every story of an extraordinary young lad adapting to a puzzling world, there is also a love interest: Isabel at age 12 (Kristina Lykowa) is his fun-loving babysitter and at age 19 (Tamara Scarpellini) is the queen of his inexperienced heart and fill a void in Vitus' life that otherwise would be empty. Fitting all of these subplots together is made magical by Vitus' constant playing of classical music - a feat the young actor is capable of performing on his own!

The cast of this film is not only gifted but is also endearing. Bruno Ganz is a brilliant actor and he is matched by both of the young actors who play Vitus. The story is tender but avoids bathos. It simply is an uplifting, inspiring, entertaining film. A Must See! Grady Harp, November 07

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More Vitus reviews
Quick Tip by . June 27, 2011
Watched this movie on Netflix DVD rental. Interesting and strange story of an exceptional (and exceptionally cheeky) child who is smarter than everyone around him. Sort of like Shine but with a clever twist (which I won't spoil).
review by . June 15, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Vitus is a prodigy, not only of the piano, but of math and much else besides. His well intentioned mother essentially smothers Vitus with unintended consequences. A loving grandfather plays a big role in this. (Nope, I'm not going to give much away here since it is very easy to spoil this movie by providing too much detail.)     Suffice it to say that Vitus is a one-of-a-kind child, brilliant and wise (with the help of grandpa) beyond his years.     Unfortunately, …
review by . January 20, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Solid acting by both versions of the title character, story in general.      Cons: The specifics of the story fall flat more than not, pacing is weak.      The Bottom Line: If you like films about child prodigies, this one will be ok, otherwise, no reason to watch it.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.      It has been hard for me to decide what to make of the …
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #96
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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About this movie


In this engaging drama from Switzerland, a child prodigy finds a unique way of dealing with being different. Vitus is no normal child. With a 180 IQ, a voracious appetite for knowledge, and a preternatural gift at playing the piano, he finds it hard to fit in with his peers. Like many parents of exceptional children, his mother and father (Julika Jenkins and Urs Jucker) are overbearing, eager to see their child succeed. But as his parents push and fellow children jeer, Vitus's grandfather (Bruno Ganz, THE DOWNFALL) simply allows the boy to be himself. <br> <br> Though VITUS follows the blueprint for childhood prodigy movies (such as SEARCHING FOR BOBBY FISCHER and the first act of SHINE) a bit too closely at times, it's saved by a great cast and some interesting twists. As the 12-year-old Vitus, Teo Gheorghiu, himself a piano prodigy, heightens the sense of realism in the film. The classic music he plays is beautiful, and the actor's playing itself is remarkable. Audiences used to seeing hand doubles i...
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Genre: Drama
Release Date: June 29, 2007
MPAA Rating: PG
DVD Release Date: November 27, 2007
Runtime: 2hrs 3min
Studio: Sony Pictures
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