Mahler (1974) - Rotten Tomatoes

Mahler (1974)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Robert Powell as famed composer Gustav Mahler dons blackface and sings "Mammy" at one point in Ken Russell's maddening burlesque of his life. Framed by flashbacks during Mahler's train journey towards his deathbed in 1911 Vienna, Russell permits glimpses of the composer's life through a series of moving and/or ridiculous snippets: Mahler is seen to have had an oppressive childhood --which is reflected in his early compositions; his grudgingly taking up the conductor's baton so that he can find time to compose his symphonies; his confused relationship with his wife; his conversion to Judaism; his obsession with death. And yet through it all, Russell manages to convey the loneliness of the artistic soul.


Robert Powell
as Gustav Mahler
Georgina Hale
as Alma Mahler
Lee Montague
as Bernhard Mahler
Rosalie Crutchley
as Marie Mahler
Benny Lee
as Uncle Arnold
Miriam Karlin
as Aunt Rosa
Angela Down
as Justine
David Collings
as Hugo Wolfe
Antonia Ellis
as Cosima Wagner
Arnold Yarrow
as Grandfather
Dana Gillespie
as Anna von Mildenburg
Elaine Delmar
as Princess
Michael Southgate
as Alois Mahler
Otto Diamant
as Prof. Sladky
Gary Rich
as Young Mahler
Andrew Faulds
as Doctor On Train
David Trevena
as Dr. Richter
Oliver Reed
as Stationmaster
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Mahler

All Critics (4)

This is filmmaking -- and filmmaking of a kind we've rarely seen.

Full Review… | June 23, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Though the film like Mahler's music is clearly not for everyone it, nevertheless, rises in a crescendo of brilliant spectacle to overwhelm the usual timid biopic.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

MAHLER's preponderance with visuals reminds us that Russell is more of a technical director than an actor's director

January 1, 2000

Audience Reviews for Mahler

This movie has a couple of great sections but sadly they're too disjointed to carry the whole movie. I also don't think it does a good job of embodying his music... which maybe wasn't the point, but I felt like it would have worked hand in hand.

Jenna Ipcar
Jenna Ipcar

Ken Russell's "Mahler" is a trip. The visual imagery of a woman emerging from a cocoon and and extensive battle where the conversion of a Jew to Christianity forces him to destroy a Star of David and eat the head of a pig are amongst the things to look forward to; and yet, Russell manages to make some big statements about Gustav Mahler's life through this bizarre interpretation of his life. My favorite part of the film comes about 5 minutes in, when Gustav watches a scene from "Death in Venice" unfold before his eyes with the beautiful "Adagietto" playing. This image of a composer watching the future legacy of his music is fantastic, particularly as his music was not well received in his time and he always believed that people would "get it" 50 years after his death. And they did. The film's downfall is that you have to be an expert on Mahler's life to understand most of what Russell is trying to express, giving it a very limited audience appeal. I am fairly well educated in the life and character of Mahler and yet, many of these things went over my head the first time. The acting is good and the soundtrack is incredible as we get to enjoy Mahler's music for two hours, but unless you have done significant research about the life of Mahler ahead of time, this will just come off as and extensive display of bizarre imagery.

Jonny Priano
Jonny Priano

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