The Music Lovers

Overview

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is given the Ken Russell treatment in The Music Lovers, which means that there is plenty of music, plenty of passion, plenty of debauchery, and plenty of excess. Tame by Russell's later standards Lisztomania, The Music Lovers nevertheless thrives on creative and sexual anguish. Richard Chamberlain plays Tchaikovsky with a bug-eyed intensity as a composer consumed by his art -- so consumed that his romantic attachments become bisexual and irrational. He falls in love with Nina Glenda ...
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Overview

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is given the Ken Russell treatment in The Music Lovers, which means that there is plenty of music, plenty of passion, plenty of debauchery, and plenty of excess. Tame by Russell's later standards Lisztomania, The Music Lovers nevertheless thrives on creative and sexual anguish. Richard Chamberlain plays Tchaikovsky with a bug-eyed intensity as a composer consumed by his art -- so consumed that his romantic attachments become bisexual and irrational. He falls in love with Nina Glenda Jackson, the hysterical trollop he marries with dire consequences. As he explodes emotionally, his public performance of "Piano Concerto in B flat minor" becomes a cue for flashbacks to a series of discomforting childhood events that suggest incestuous relations with his sister. Back in real time, Tchaikovsky has to deal with Nina's outbursts while juggling his homosexual urges and his almost hidden desire for Count Anton Chiluvsky Christopher Gable. The film also details the curious relationship between Tchaikovsky and his rich patroness, the middle-aged widow Madame Nadedja von Meck Isabella Telezynska, who loves Tchaikovsky deeply, but refuses to meet him -- their only communication being through letters, even though he lives on her estate. Andre Previn and the London Symphony Orchestra perform Tchaikovsky's music.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
The films of Ken Russell tend to provoke strong reactions from audiences. Never one to sacrifice drama for subtlety, his work on The Music Lovers is among his most passionate, oversized, and florid, although it is relatively restrained in terms of surreal visual imagery and storytelling technique. Russell seems to be trying to create a movie that is as fractured and schizophrenic as Tchaikovsky's life, and he succeeds admirably in doing this. Unfortunately, there's insufficient dramatic payoff for all this effort, especially as the end result tends to discomfort and alienate many viewers. Credit must be given to the director's imagination, however, as well as to his visual sense -- the play of colors, the editing, and the imagery are stunning. Richard Chamberlain is a bit overwhelmed by the goings-on; although he puts up a great fight, he doesn't seem sufficiently keyed in to Russell's vision to make the part his own, leaving the film with a bit of a hole in its center. Glenda Jackson, on the other hand, gives a powerhouse performance that is perfectly in tune with Russell; she is one of the few actresses capable of giving Russell what he is after without losing touch with either reality or with her own core inner being. Jackson, along with the lavish sets and the sometimes fascinating, sometimes bewildering camera movements, doesn't make up for the many flaws in the film, but she and those flourishs do make it much easier to take.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/26/2011
  • UPC: 883904252108
  • Original Release: 1971
  • Source: Mgm Mod
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Language: English
  • Time: 2:04:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 15,633

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Richard Chamberlain Peter Tchaikovsky
Glenda Jackson Antonina Milyukova
Max Adrian Nicholas Rubinstein
Christopher Gable Count Anton Chiluvsky
Isabella Telezynska Mme. Nadedja von Meck
Joanne Brown Olga Bredska
Kenneth Colley Modest Tchaikovsky
Alain Dubreuil Prince Siegfried in "Swan Lake"
Maggie Maxwell Queen in "Swan Lake"
Ernest Bale Headwaiter
Bruce Robinson Alexei
Andrew Faulds Davidov
Ben Aris Young Lieutenant
Imogen Claire Lady in White
Xavier Russell Koyola
James Russell Bobyek
Victoria Russell Tatiana
Alexander Russell Mme. Von Meck's Grandson
Georgina Parkinson Odile in "Swan Lake"
Graham Armitage Prince Balukin
Alexei Jawdokimov Dimitri Shubelov
Peter White Von Rothbart in "Swan Lake"
Sabina Maydelle Sasha
Maureen Pryor Nina's Mother
Xavier
Technical Credits
Ken Russell Director, Producer
Roy Baird Executive Producer
Jonathan Benson Asst. Director
Michael Bradsell Editor
Melvyn Bragg Screenwriter
George Frost Makeup
Terry Gilbert Choreography
Michael Knight Art Director
Natasha Kroll Production Designer
André Previn Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Shirley Russell Costumes/Costume Designer
Douglas Slocombe Cinematographer
Ian Whittaker Set Decoration/Design
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