A send-up of the bawdy life of Romantic composer/piano virtuoso Franz Liszt, with ubiquitous phallic imagery and a good portion of the film devoted to Liszt's "friendship" with fellow ... See full summary »
A send-up of the bawdy life of Romantic composer/piano virtuoso Franz Liszt, with ubiquitous phallic imagery and a good portion of the film devoted to Liszt's "friendship" with fellow composer Richard Wagner. The film begins during the time when Franz would give piano performance to a crowd of shrieking teenage fans while maintaining affairs with his (multiple!) mistresses. He eventually seeks Princess Carolyne of St. Petersburg (at her invitation), elopes, and, after their marriage is forbidden by the Pope, he embraces the monastic life as an abbé. Written by
Jonathan Dakss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I'm a great fan of Ken Russell's films. What I like most about them is the director's ability (and willingness) to totally immerse his productions into whatever mania happens to be the driving force behind its subject. The results are often excellent, occasionally poor. But never have I seen a film that was, at once, so incredibly visionary and God-awful as Lisztomania.
In most Russell films, fantasy takes on an important role in the dramatic narrative. In Lisztomania, the narrative is virtually jettisoned in favor of fantasy, and not to altogether admirable effect.
Still, any motion picture that can give us Richard Wagner portrayed as a Transylvanian vampire who gains musical inspiration by sucking the blood of Franz Liszt deserves points for imaginative hubris.
Ultimately, Lisztomania is less a film than a comic boot pastiche. Its humor is, by turns, dazzling and lead-footed. Compared to THE MUSIC LOVERS (another Russell bio-pic, this time about Tchaikovsky), Lisztomania is, for all it gleeful, lip-smacking gusto, a rather tired affair, largely because it's metaphors are so pedantic and literal-minded.
I should point out, however, that Wagner's third-act transformation (or should I say resurrection) into a machine gun-toting, Frankenstein-Hitler rock star (yes, you read correctly) is a genuinely
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