Ken Russell’s Mahler
with Colorado Mahlerfest
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.
(Ken Russell, 1974, UK, 1:55, PG)