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Mahler (1974)

Composer Gustav Mahler's life, told in a series of flashbacks as he and his wife discuss their failing marriage during a train journey.

Director:

Ken Russell

Writer:

Ken Russell
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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Powell ... Gustav Mahler
Georgina Hale ... Alma Mahler
Lee Montague ... Bernhard Mahler
Miriam Karlin Miriam Karlin ... Aunt Rosa
Rosalie Crutchley ... Marie Mahler
Gary Rich Gary Rich ... Young Mahler
Richard Morant ... Max
Angela Down Angela Down ... Justine Mahler
Antonia Ellis ... Cosima Wagner
Ronald Pickup ... Nick
Peter Eyre ... Otto Mahler
Dana Gillespie ... Anna von Mildenburg
George Coulouris ... Doctor Roth
David Collings ... Hugo Wolfe
Arnold Yarrow Arnold Yarrow ... Grandfather
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Storyline

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 Here, historical content matters not so much as metaphors, feelings, emotions, and interpretations, and pay close attention, as every word and frame is intended to be important.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 <dakss@columbia.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

February 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Малер See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor) (as Technicolor®)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[last lines]
Gustav Mahler: [reminded of some medications he should take] They won't be needed! We're going to live forever!
See more »

Connections

References The Music Lovers (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

In Stormy Weather
Sung by Carol Mudie
Performed by The National Philharmonia Orchestra
Conducted by John Forsyth
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A failed experiment, from the improbable to the impossible.
29 October 2016 | by juan_palmero2010See all my reviews

If you like Mahler's music and have read something about his life, then this film is unlikely to meet your expectations.

I found it to be an awkward collection of badly stitched together, largely badly acted parodies, improbable events and dialogues. The actor playing Mahler does make a brave effort, even though the script would have him looking extremely young and healthy even when dying, and behaving rudely much of the time. But for the rest... Alma Mahler looks wanton and superficial, and physically not at all like Alma Mahler. Mahler's father looks just embarrassing, with many other characters being a collection of freaks. Give this a good coating of 1970s dubious experimental ideas and listen to the shrill recording on the DVD, and you are done.


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