In 1926 the tragic and untimely death of a silent screen actor caused female moviegoers to riot in the streets and in some cases to commit suicide - that actor was Rudolph Valentino. ... See full summary »
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 Here, historical content matters not so much as metaphors, feelings, emotions, and interpretations, and pay close attention, as every word and frame is intended to be important.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.Written by
Jonathan Dakss <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Ken Russell 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 »
Anna von Mildenburg:
Your song was charming, Alma, even if it was a little naïve, a little childlike.
Critics are always accusing me of being naïve. Don't associate naïvete with children, though. They don't even know what it means. Heaven lies all around us in our infancy. To enter that world, we must see with the eyes of children and hear with the ears of children.
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Ken Russell made several films for the BBC on artists and musicians like Fredrick Delius, the composer, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the painter and poet, and one of the founders of the Pre Raphaelite movement. The Rossetti film features the late Oliver Reed in an engrossing performance. This Mahler film is quite good. I feared watching it because I thought Ken Russell would make a circus of Mahler's tempestuous life, but it's a fairly controlled foray, except for the aforementioned sequence with Wagner's widow, BUT she was well acquainted with Hitler, and she never met a Nazi she didn't like, so the scene with her was founded on fact.
Robert Powell, and the lovely Georgina Hale, give beautiful performances. I looked in their credits and see THEY ARE BARELY WORKING TODAY. Maybe their own choice or a preference of stage work. I can't believe they would pass up today's movie money. They have not appeared as far as I can see in any major movie project for years. I don't get it. Russell, if he worked with the editor fitting the music to the film, shows a real feeling for the music. Even today Mahler's music is a specially acquired taste, and if much of it sounds bizzaire today, think what it sounded like to listners in 1906. A special kudo must go to David Collings as the insane composer Hugo Wolf. An acting gem. Also no current acting credits. David where are you? We need guys like you, Robert Powell, and Georgina Hale.
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