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Mahler

By Tom Keogh

From its stunning opening sequence, featuring Georgina Hale (who plays the wife of Gustav Mahler in this Ken Russell film) isolated in full mummy wrap and writhing with erotic yearning to the lush strains of her husband's music, Mahler distinguishes itself as the most poetic and archetypal of Russell's great-composer works. A kind of cinematic response to Luchino Visconti's 1971 adaptation of Death in Venice, in which Dirk Bogarde plays a Mahler-esque composer in search of beauty in the plague-filled city, Mahler stars Robert Powell as the great Jewish romantic from 19th-century Vienna, drafting enormous symphonic works in the midst of rising anti-Semitism. Converting to Christianity as a means of survival, Mahler carries on with his work but experiences an erosion of his health and sense of identity. Meanwhile, his self-effacing spouse represses her own creative drives to keep the resident genius afloat, plugging every leak and receding all but invisible into the woodwork. While the film is the least ostentatious of Russell's movies about music, it is hardly conventional, a mix of lyrical tableaux and comic fantasy that adds up to a stirring, dreamlike experience.

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated PGNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Ken Russell

Stars: Robert Powell, Georgina Hale

Released: February 13, 1975

Availability: DVD VHS


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