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Mahler

3.8 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Ken Russell's film "Mahler" on DVD as released by Image Entertainment.

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Powell, Georgina Hale, Lee Montague, Miriam Karlin, Rosalie Crutchley
  • Directors: Ken Russell
  • Writers: Ken Russell
  • Producers: David Puttnam, Roy Baird, Sanford Lieberson
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 24, 1998
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305131090
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,292 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Mahler" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Roberts VINE VOICE on April 22, 2001
Format: DVD
This is a rather bizzare movie on the life of the Austrian composer Gustav Mahler. Then again, perhaps it would be borderline impossible for anyone to conceive of a movie about Mahler which was not bizarre. The movie makes an attempt to reconstruct the psychology of an artistic genius, one who was so inspired by the works of Beethoven, Wagner, Goethe, Nietzsche & Novalis.
The film takes place aboard a train; Mahler and his wife are both travelling on board. The trainride sees Mahler indulge in a number of flashbacks and nightmares, all of which provide the vehicle for Ken Russell to divulge the more salient episodes of Mahler's life. Among these are his childhood artistic inspirations, the rocky relationships he had with his wife & family and the unfortunate but infamous encounter he had with the emperor of Austria.
As a biography of a composer, this one does not rank up there with "Amadeus," "Immortal Beloved" or Richard Burton's "Wagner." However, it does do a credible job of engaging some of the more memorable epochs of his life, as well as his incessant infatuation with death. There are also some intentional anachronisms, such as his "meeting" with Cosima Wagner.
Far more important though, is the introspective look which the movie offers on the isolated existence of a tormented genius. The continual anguish of this friendly, misanthropic megalomaniac is felt throughout. Someone once asked Mahler, "How could a man as kind-hearted as you have written a symphony so full of suffering?" "It is," replied Mahler, "the sum of all the suffering I have been compelled to endure at the hands of life." Such is the theme of this movie. Such was the theme of Mahler's life. It is a theme sometimes gruesome, sometimes hauntingly beautiful, and always gripping. See this movie, and hear the theme for yourself.
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Format: DVD
Mahler was a great Ken Russell film. It should have been presented correctly on DVD. Instead what we get is a washed out, blurry, scratched up mess. The sound is bad and the beauty of the cinematography is totally lost. This would be laughable if it weren't a shame. Honestly, the VHS version of this film blows the DVD away (huh?). Mr. Russell was a pioneer in his time and respected by people who enjoyed his mischievous touch. This film needs to be redone by someone who cares!
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Film auteur Ken Russell made at least six biographical movies about celebrated composers, three of which enjoyed commercial release in the United States: "The Music Lovers," about Tchaikovsky; "Mahler," about its titular subject; and "Lisztomania," really about Wagner as much as it was about Liszt. Unseen in commercial release in North America (and unseen by me) are studies of Frederick Delius, Sir Arnold Bax, and Bela Bartók. Known for his extravagance - and, let us be honest, his vulgarity - Russell nevertheless believes passionately in these projects and endows his composer-artists with an especially powerful aura. (At one point, in the late 1960s, Russell apparently tried to help in the promotion of Lyrita's release of symphonies by Bax, although his plan was eventually scuttled by Lyrita's management.) The Tchaikovsky, Liszt, and Mahler films are all studies in the link between neurosis and creativity and portray the artist not merely as a social outcast, unfit really for society, but as a martyr to his own talent, which inevitably consumes him. "Mahler" (1974), as fantastic as portions of it might be, maintains the closest marriage with reality. Robert Powell (famously Jesus in Zeffirelli's film of that name) as Mahler represents perfect casting. For one thing, he looks the part. British beauty Georgina Hale (where is she twenty-five years later?) is alternately innocent and whorish as Alma Schindler, who, twenty years younger, became Mahler's wife only to betray him, as Mahler perhaps betrayed her, too. There is enough neurosis in their story to go around. Russell gives us not so much a straight narrative as a series of vignettes in flashback from Mahler's point of view as he returns by train to Vienna for the last time in 1911, the year of his death.Read more ›
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By A Customer on November 27, 1998
Format: DVD
It is amazing how the company putting out this DVD could get away with selling such poor picture quality. There is a noticeable blur that accompanies most tracking shots, the picture is grainy, the colors are rather dull, and seems digitally transferred from an old VHS copy. And do not believe ads calling this a "widescreen" edition. It is standard screen size, possibly because it was never filmed in a widescreen format to begin with. The VHS version may be a bit better, but those with the illusion that DVD is always synonymous with superior quality -- BEWARE!
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Format: VHS Tape
Anyone knowing about Ken Russell's films knows to expect something a little eccentric. With "Mahler," he does not disappoint. For the lover of unusual films, as well as Mahler's grand orchestral canvases, this film provides many delights.
A convalescing Gustav Mahler (Robert Powell) ponders his life while on a train trip with his wife Alma (Georgina Hale), who is having an affair with a military officer. While it covers certain events from his life, including the misery and tragedy of his childhood, the film's real strengths derive from its more fantastical aspects. Russell examines the composer's psyche in some bizarre, anachronistic, and sometimes darkly humorous vignettes, some of which have to do with Mahler's Jewishness in anti-Semitic "fin de siecle" Austria. Some highlights: Mahler debasing himself to prove his worthiness to a B&D clad Cosima Wagner during the musical number "Jewboy," sung to a very familiar tune by her husband; seeing his own funeral with Nazi pallbearers, a nude Alma frolicking to the playfully nightmarish Scherzo from his own Seventh Symphony; and his own frolics with what appears to have been his true love, Death.
Despite being the protagonist, Mahler is not completely a hero. Russell also examines Mahler's autocratic attitude towards his wife's composing, culminating in her burying her own compositions. The music selected for this scene is not by Mahler, but rather a Wagner piece with a very appropriate title. Perhaps this explains Mahler's phantasmic vision of Alma frolicking at his own funeral; does Russell have Mahler realize the delusion of consigning Alma exclusively to the role of muse, rather than leaving her to define herself as another creator?
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