KEN RUSSELL IN PERSON!! TODAY! Chichester International Film Festival!
KEN RUSSELL Double Bill: MAHLER & DANCE OF THE SEVEN VEILSUK · 1974 & 197 · Ken Russell · 115 & 55min
From its stunning opening sequence, featuring Georgina Hale (who plays the wife of Gustav Mahler in this Ken Russell film) isolated in full mummy wrap and writhing with erotic yearning to the lush strains of her husband's music, Mahler distinguishes itself as the most poetic and archetypal of Russell's great-composer works. A kind of cinematic response to Luchino Visconti's 1971 adaptation of ‘Death in Venice’, (showing on Saturday morning - 27 August) Mahler stars Robert Powell as the great Jewish romantic from 19th-century Vienna, drafting enormous symphonic works in the midst of rising anti-Semitism.
Converting to Christianity as a means of survival, Mahler carries on with his work but experiences an erosion of his health and sense of identity. Meanwhile, his self-effacing spouse represses her own creative drives to keep the resident genius afloat, (also explored in ‘Mahler on the Couch’ showing on Mon 29 Aug 18.30 & Tue 30 Aug 15.30).
While the film is the least ostentatious of Russell's movies about music, it is hardly conventional - a mix of lyrical tableaux and comic fantasy that adds up to a stirring, dream-like experience.
DANCE OF THE SEVEN VEILS:
A Comic Strip in 7 Episodes on the Life of Richard Strauss (1864-1949)
Russell regarded Strauss's music as "bombastic, sham and hollow", and despised the composer for claiming to be apolitical while cosying up to the Nazi regime. The film depicts Strauss in a variety of grotesquely caricatured situations: attacked by nuns after adopting Nietzsche's philosophy, he fights duels with jealous husbands, literally batters his critics into submission with his music and glorifies the women in his life and fantasies.
Later, his association with Hitler leads to a graphically-depicted willingness to turn a blind eye to Nazi excesses, responding to SS thugs carving a Star of David in an elderly Jewish man's chest by urging his orchestra to play louder, drowning out the screams. Comfortably his most extreme television film, its broadcast was preceded by a warning about its violent content, though it still caused widespread outrage and has been banned by the Strauss estate! So sue us! Christopher Gable (Richard Strauss), Judith Paris (Pauline Strauss), Kenneth Colley (Hitler), Vladek Sheybal (Goebbels), James Mellor (Goering), Sally Bryant (Life).
There will be a 15m interval between the 2 films with a complementary glass of wine. TICKETS £10 (to include a complementary glass of wine)