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as Franz Liszt
as Princess Carolyn
as Richard Wagner
as Countess Marie
as Hans von Bulow
as Count d'Agoult
as Lola Montez
as George Sand
as Hector Berlioz
as Frederic Chopin
as Felix Mendelsohn
as Princess Carolyn's Servant
Critic Reviews for Lisztomania
While it may lack narrative sense, this is, without a doubt, one of the most unpredictable and hypnotic viewing experiences you could ever hope to have.
This is Ken Russell unfiltered -- straight-up and unafraid to go wherever his mind leads him. Absolutely unique.
There's no reason to suggest that Russell was just earning a paycheck on Lisztomania; clearly his full attention was on the giant penis, or the giant penis marble columns, or the giant heavenly penis pedestal.
Ken Russell just being silly.
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Audience Reviews for Lisztomania
I am unable to defend Ken Russell's big budget excursion into celluloid insanity, but I can state that you will be hard-pressed to find a major studio financed film the comes even close to being as strange as this one. The concept is not a bad one -- in many ways one could make a case that Franz Liszt was the first "pop star" inciting the beginning of "fans" and "celebrity" -- however, Ken Russell stretches the concept way too far. The music of Liszt and Wagoner are given glam-electronic interpretation by Rick Wakeman and Russell turns the life of Franz Liszt into a surreal comic book version of history. Intentionally offensive and obviously drug-induced, this film holds a certain charm. I take some form of comfort in knowing that this film was somehow made. For Ken Russell and fans of Cinematic Oddity only.
Franz Listz, a huge 19th century celebrity because of his hit version of "Chopsticks," beds a succession of mistresses until the Pope orders him to travel to Germany and exorcise a demon from rival composer Richard Wagner. It's the biography of Franz Liszt if it were directed by Benny Hill working from a script by Federico Fellini; its silly and phallic, and lots of fun if you can surrender yourself to it.
Franz Liszt(Roger Daltrey) performs at a sold out show, almost entirely composed of screaming teenaged girls. The only exception is Richard Wagner(Paul Nicholas), a promising young composer, whose work Liszt makes fun of before Wagner slinks off into the darkness. Fame is not all fun and games as Liszt is commanded to perform for Tsar Nicholas, taking him away again from his paramour Marie(Fiona Lewis) who gave up everything to be with him. At least, his daughter Cosima(Veronica Quilligan) makes him a doll which should comfort him until he makes a detour to visit Princess Carolyn(Sara Kestelman). With baroque, anachronistic and stylistic energy and imagery that includes an additional debt to classic and silent films, Ken Russell is less interested in the facts of Franz Liszt's life, assuming the audience is already familiar with his story and music(all I know is from the film "Impromptu" which featured Julian Sands as the Hungarian composer), than with creating a personal and psycho-political film that tries with a good deal of success to show what the inside of an artist's head looks like. Of course, not everything we see in there is pretty, as Liszt lives constantly in fear of being castrated and/or trapped. That's nothing compared to Richard Wagner who Russell sees as the root of all evil, i.e. Nazism. While I admire the effort to show the Nazis not occuring in a political vacuum, their causes probably went beyond just one classical composer.
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