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The Music Lovers

By Tom Keogh

Furious, violently bombastic, terribly unsettling, Ken Russell's biography of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky (Richard Chamberlain) is a portrait of artistic brilliance beset by the Russian composer's mounting guilt over, well, everything: his homosexuality, his marriage to the increasingly miserable and mad Nina (Glenda Jackson), his hidden attraction to Count Anton Chiluvsky (Christopher Gable), and his suggestively incestuous relations with a sister while growing up. Consumed by his art to the point of explosiveness, Tchaikovsky has increasing difficulty coping with his life, finding some solace in the distant love proffered by his rich patroness (who refuses to meet him but communicates her feelings through letters). Russell intends the film to be a bumpy and harsh ride that descends into grotesque tragedy as Nina is confined to a monstrous asylum and Tchaikovsky becomes ill. Still, there are a few of the usual pop-surreal sequences of which the director is so fond, most memorably a loony visual accompaniment for the 1812 Overture.

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Buy this VHS movie from! (Click here!)DVD unavailableBuy this soundtrack from! (Click here!)Rated RNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Ken Russell

Stars: Glenda Jackson, Richard Chamberlain, Max Adrian, Christopher Gable

Released: January 24, 1971

Availability: VHS CD

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