Both trifles and structure are tossed out the door by director Ken Russell in this film. Here, historical content matters not so much as metaphors, feelings, emotions, and interpretations, and pay close attention, as every word and frame is intended to be important. The film takes place on a single train ride, in which the sickly composer Gustav Mahler and his wife, Alma, confront the reasons behind their faltered marriage and dying love. Each word seems to evoke memories of past, and so the audience witnesses events of Mahler's life that explain somewhat his present state. Included are his turbulent and dysfunctional family life as a child, his discovery of solace in the "natural" world, his brother's suicide, his [unwanted] conversion from Judiasm to Catholicism, his rocky marriage and the death of their young child. The movie weaves in and out of dreams, flashbacks, thoughts and reality as Russell poetically describes the man behind the music.
Jonathan Dakss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Did You Know?
was inspired to make his film about composer Gustav Mahler after greatly disliking Death in Venice
(1971). In a segment of his autobiography about Mahler
(1974), Russell said that he thought that the other "so-called Mahler film", Death in Venice, was rubbish. "People think it's about Mahler, all because his music is part of the soundtrack! The director, Luchino Visconti
, never said it was about him, though." So he mocked the film in his movie. He had a satirical moment when Mahler looks out of the train and sees his dying lookalike. See more
When Mahler's train leaves St. Pölten, a sign is visible identifying the town as "Saint Pölten". Yet, the German long script for the town is "Sankt Pölten". See more
You've already wasted three minutes of my time! Now why don't you do what I do to keep the New York Philharmonic in time: beat it!
Referenced in David Puttnam Interview
The Mahler Symphonies
Written by Gustav Mahler
Performed by Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest
, Amsterdam (as Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam)
by arrangement with Phonogram International b.v. See more