Mahler - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Mahler Reviews

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March 29, 2016
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.
½ November 22, 2015
Well its Ken Russell, so the film goes "there" in several bizarro sequences. It surely is never boring.
July 27, 2015
Russell's Mahler does for the composer what his "Gothic" did for 19-century literature -- it captures a very powerful experience with the fusion of images and music, dream-like sequences, and symbolism. The film is edited perfectly, and the series of flashbacks give Russell the opportunity for some very enjoyable and extended musical sequences. A few I found particularly stunning and memorable: Alma's quieting of the village for her husband's work by buying beer for the local band. She then conducts the dancers, performing their landler to her silent gestures, while Mahler, in his lakeside boathouse, vigorously conducts the second movement of his first symphony; poor Gustav dreams of his own death and being cremated alive, while Alma dances provocatively with the pall bearers to the dark and shadowy scherzo of the seventh; finally, the sequence of Alma searching for her children to "In diesem Wetter, in diesem Braus," from her husband's own Kindertotenlieder! A heart-breaking scene, I think.

So: dizzying editing, long montages containing some of the most beautiful, powerful and poignant music ever written, and a fine and witty performance by Powell --- no reason not to see this movie. Highly recommended for Mahler-enthusiasts and for those who have not heard one note of his. This just might be the best introduction.
May 21, 2015
Ken Russell's MAHLER has sadly seemingly been forgotten. This is cinematic art.
½ March 15, 2015
Interesting watch......and easier viewing than Lisztomania!
January 2, 2014
Ken Russell films are always interesting. Loved the opening sequence here. Saw this film on British TV in an old coaching inn after a weary day seeing Windsor Castle, and a great experience it all was.
November 26, 2013
One of the greatest of music artist biographies, a classic that ranks up there with the best of Ken Russell's films.
½ July 13, 2013
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.
June 16, 2013
This is the second time I've watched this film, and I still find it just as wonderfully weird this second time around, very atmospheric and moving, love the parts where melancholy is present, it somehow screams loudly in its expression, although subtle and understated at the same time..Nice soundtrack too..
December 22, 2012
One Ken Russell's finest. Great imagery.

He uses Karajan's recordings of Mahler for the soundtrack & fine they are too.
September 6, 2012
Ken Russell rides again, this time he's in familiar territory with another film about one the great classical composers. This one is about Gustav Mahler (Robert Powell), the Austrian composer who, now an old man on a train journey with his wife Alma (Georgina Hale), looks back upon his life, and all the struggles he faced in it, whether it be his conversion from Judaism to Catholicism, because of anti-semitism, his troubled childhood and his brother killing himself. As expected from Ken Russell, it has his usual touches of madness, (the religion conversion is Nazi themed), but for a film made on a shoestring budget, it is beautifully shot and Ken gets the best out of his locations, (Cumbria's Lake District doubles for Bavaria), which would be used again for Russell's next film, Tommy (1975), which Powell also appeared in. Oh, and Oliver Reed makes an uncredited cameo as a station conductor, it also brings out the best in Mahler's music...

Ken Russell rides again, this time he's in familiar territory with another film about one the great classical composers. It was originally going to be made in Germany by MGM, the funding fell through after Savage Messiah (1972) was a massive flop, leaving poor Ken to do it on a shoestring budget, but it does lead to some inventive moments. Although on the surface this might look quite straight faced, it does have Ken decending into over the top fantastical moments. This one is about Gustav Mahler (Robert Powell), the Austrian composer who, now a sick, old man on a train journey with his wife Alma (Georgina Hale), looks back upon his life, and all the struggles he faced in it, whether it be his troubled childhood with abuse from father Bernhard (Lee Montague), his quest for musical perfection, and conversion from Judaism to Catholicism, done before Nazi Pope Cosima Wagner (Antonia Ellis), and because of anti-semitism, his troubled childhood and his brother Otto (Peter Eyre) killing himself, the death of his daughter from scarlet fever, but how his love to Alma conquers all tragedy. It is beautifully shot and Ken gets the best out of his locations, Cumbria's Lake District doubles for Bavaria, which would be used again for Russell's next film, Tommy (1975), which Powell also appeared in. Oh, and Oliver Reed makes an uncredited cameo as a station conductor, the film brings out the best in Mahler's music, and Ken brings out the best in everything.
April 25, 2012
Ken Russell's Mahler takes place on a single train ride between Gustav Mahler and his wife, Alma, as they confront the reasons for their faltering marriage and love for one and other. Besides this shell of a structure, Russell opts to through all narrative out the window, focusing on Mahler's emotions and feelings which lead him to where he is. Through a ton of flashbacks, some very surreal, we see how Mahler's past has shaped his present. I really like this idea of Mahler's personal life being in turmoil because of his art. The film shows us how he sacrifices everything-His marriage, his children, his religion for the sake of his music. There are so many memorable scenes from Mahler's interpretation of his death, capturing all the insecurities and pessimism, to the sequence where Mahler embraces Catholicism, which was just hilarious and fun. Russell's disdain for Catholicism is in full effect during that sequence. Pretty much every frame, every composition has a purpose in showing us something about Mahler's life. The scene where he witnesses his father cheating on his mother is a perfect example of Russell's heave use of symbolism-the pitch fork laying perfectly on the center of the young boy's forehead, the image piercing deep into a young Mahler's mind. From an emotional standpoint, I found sequences to be incredibly effective, particularly the small scene about the death of his daughter. I found this film to be more focused and less zany than films like Lisztomania and Tommy, and while I like those films a lot too, this one reached me far more on an emotional level. Thinking about it, this could very well be my favorite film of Kevin Russell's which I have seen..
September 28, 2011
Flourish, flourish, flourish...great soundtrack, OK biopic.
½ September 10, 2010
Ken Russell tells Mahler's life story through a series of reveries experienced during a train trip just before illness felled him. The film is adorned with the flourishes, indulgences, and eccentricities that make Russell an interesting (and sometimes embarrassing) director. Someone with better knowledge of classical music might hear/see more synergies than I did, but in its loosey-goosey way this was still enjoyable.
October 17, 2009
what a musician you are gustav!
July 24, 2009
Truly great biopic, Robert Powell is superb as the lead. It is artfully done under Russell's direction with some great dream sequences and of course the music helps which drives most of the film. Georgina Hale also needs to be mentioned who is fantastic as a victim of love.
July 13, 2009
I've never seen a film that better understands the power of music. A masterpiece filled with soul... and an inspired performance from Robert Powell.
April 29, 2009
Robert powel IS Mahler.
March 13, 2009
Feels like I floated away into an artistic dream about one of my favorite composers. I enjoyed this one so much! Truly incredible film!
September 10, 2008
Ken Russell rides again, this time he's in familiar territory with another film about one the great classical composers. This one is about Gustav Mahler (Robert Powell), the Austrian composer who, now an old man on a train journey with his wife Alma (Georgina Hale), looks back upon his life, and all the struggles he faced in it, whether it be his conversion from Judaism to Catholicism, because of anti-semitism, his troubled childhood and his brother killing himself. As expected from Ken Russell, it has his usual touches of madness, (the religion conversion is Nazi themed), but for a film made on a shoestring budget, it is beautifully shot and Ken gets the best out of his locations, (Cumbria's Lake District doubles for Bavaria), which would be used again for Russell's next film, Tommy (1975), which Powell also appeared in. Oh, and Oliver Reed makes an uncredited cameo as a station conductor, it also brings out the best in Mahler's music...
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