Mahler

Overview

Director Ken Russell made a number of biographical films of composers' lives including The Music Lovers, about Tchaikovsky and Lisztomania. Russell embellished the other films with certain characteristic flourishes, which include a focus on the composers' sexual obsessions, poetically telling anachronisms, and scenes which show Richard Wagner in a bad light. The story of Mahler is recounted in a much less complex and flamboyant manner and is a relatively reverent study of the life and work of Austrian composer ...
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Overview

Director Ken Russell made a number of biographical films of composers' lives including The Music Lovers, about Tchaikovsky and Lisztomania. Russell embellished the other films with certain characteristic flourishes, which include a focus on the composers' sexual obsessions, poetically telling anachronisms, and scenes which show Richard Wagner in a bad light. The story of Mahler is recounted in a much less complex and flamboyant manner and is a relatively reverent study of the life and work of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler, here played by Robert Powell. The film tackles the touchy dilemma of Mahler's Jewishness in the anti-Semitic atmosphere of 19th-century Vienna. He converts to Christianity, which has no effect on his brilliant musical output but which eats away at his physical and mental well-being. Gustav Mahler 1860-1911 was a conductor and composer of the late Romantic era and specialized in huge symphonic works. Though his works were performed widely during his lifetime, they were less and less-often played until Leonard Bernstein's active campaign on their behalf brought him renewed recognition as a composer of the first rank, every bit the peer of Brahms or Stravinsky.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
Though Mahler may be familiar as yet another of Ken Russell's biographies of composers, this film is relatively free of the director's characteristic excesses. As the composer returns to Vienna, he contemplates such difficulties in his life as his demanding father and stormy marriage, as well as such psychological problems as his guilt over an expedient conversion to Catholicism and an obsessive fear of death. The film emphasizes the composer's need for solitude, partly due to a hypersensitive nature and partly a condition of his creative work. While Russell's treatment of the composer is surprisingly reverent, the mild, ethereal Robert Powell was perhaps not the best actor to play a role which might have been better filled by someone like Anthony Hopkins. But in general the film is well made, and for anyone looking for an introduction to the composer and his extraordinary music it wouldn't be a bad place to start.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 6/13/2000
  • UPC: 037429123737
  • Original Release: 1974
  • Source: Homevision
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert M. Powell Gustav Mahler
Georgina Hale Alma Mahler
Richard Morant Max
Lee Montague Bernhard Mahler
Rosalie Crutchley Marie Mahler
Elaine Delmar Princess
Claire McLellan Glucki
Sarah McLellan Putzi
Gary Rich Young Mahler
Michael Southgate Alois Mahler
Arnold Yarrow Grandfather
Antonia Ellis Cosima Wagner
Kenneth Colley Krenek
Terry O'Quinn
Oliver Reed Train Conductor
Benny Lee Uncle Arnold
Miriam Karlin Aunt Rosa
Angela Down Justine
David Collings Hugo Wolfe
Ronald Pickup Nick
Dana Gillespie Anna von Mildenburg
Otto Diamant Prof. Sladky
Peter Eyre Otto
George Coulouris Dr. Roth
Andrew Faulds Doctor On Train
David Trevena Dr. Richter
Technical Credits
Ken Russell Director, Screenwriter
Roy Baird Producer
Michael Bradsell Editor
Dick Bush Cinematographer
John Comfort Production Designer
John Forsythe Musical Direction/Supervision
Mike Gowans Asst. Director
Gillian Gregory Choreography
Bernard Haitink Score Composer
Sandy Lieberson Producer
David Puttnam Producer
John Richardson Special Effects
Peter Robb-King Makeup
Shirley Russell Costumes/Costume Designer
Ian Whittaker Art Director
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