One Passport to Heaven: Savage Messiah, A Ken Russell site by Iain Fisher
"With two flops he needed a commercial success, so returned to classical composers with Mahler. Mahler from 1974 is a film about sacrifice and creativity. It starts with a dream sequence which is Russell at his best and most visual. A train journey provides a rite of passage. Mahler remembers episodes from his life, and on the train itself he confronts jubilant crowds (success), the gutter press (sensationalism), his wife's lovers (infidelity), and the doctor (mortality).
A beautiful film mixing true emotion, the death of Mahler's children, with dancing Nazis. At times Powell seems to be influenced by Dirk Bogard from Death in Venice with the similarities going beyond the direct homage included in the film.
The domestic sequences of Mahler as a child are similar to those in Savage Messiah.
The film cost just over 150,000 pounds and was shot in seven weeks. The American version was shortened by 30 minutes, mainly by removing the Cosima Wagner sequence.
Robert Powell plays Mahler and Georgina Hale his overshadowed wife Alma who literally buries her creativity. Oliver Reed appears in a cameo role as the railway guard- in the book Hellraiser Robert Sellers states Reed was given three bottles of Dom Perignon for the role. Dana Gillespie the singer (she recorded Bowie's Andy Warhol before Bowie did) plays Mahler's mistress, and she wrote the composition she plays. Photography is by Dick Bush.
Ken Russell includes a homage to Death in Venice.
There is a long train ride. Various nuns. A crucifixion with Nazis etc. Russell kitsch at its best.
The scenery is around Russell's former home in the lakes.
Mahler makes fun of Tchaikovsky's piano concerto just as in The Music Lovers."
reprinted from savage
|A Ken Russell site by Iain Fisher|