Mahler

Movie Information

The Asheville Film Society will screen Mahler Tuesday, July 5, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther. Hanke is the artistic director of the A.F.S.
Score:

Genre: Biographical Drama
Director: Ken Russell
Starring: Robert Powell, Georgina Hale, Lee Montague, Rosalie Crutchley, Antonia Ellis
Rated: PG

Though it was a request from one of the Asheville Film Society’s most diehard members, it didn’t take a whole lot of prompting to get me to program Ken Russell’s Mahler (1974). That it happens to fall two days after Russell’s 84th birthday and two days before Gustav Mahler’s 151st birthday makes the choice all the more fitting, since it serves as a birthday salute to both men. Russell himself would disagree with me, but I tend to think Mahler—with its fusion of fact, fantasy and dream imagery—is the best film about a composer Ken Russell, or anyone else for that matter, ever made. The film is not by any means a traditional biopic. Rather, it’s an imagining of the composer’s life, a response to key events in his life and an interpretation of his life and works. It is not a film to everyone’s liking—mostly because of Mahler’s fantasy of his own funeral and the sequence where he converts to Catholicism. For some—including the jury at Cannes in 1974—it’s a work of genius. Others may be less generous, but it’s a film that deserves to be seen. Hopefully, you will find it a richly rewarding and powerful—and sometimes blasphemously funny—film experience.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

7 thoughts on “Mahler

  1. Ken Hanke

    I wasn’t even aware that Mahler qualified as a “Transformers” movie. Did I miss something?

  2. I wasn’t even aware that Mahler qualified as a “Transformers” movie. Did I miss something?

    All hail our robot overlords!

  3. Ken Hanke

    You are at liberty to kneel before the altar of LaBoeufinism if you’re so inclined.

  4. Mike

    What school of method acting did Shia attend that taught him to burst into screaming fits like that? He’s fine one moment and the next I’m imagining a mad scramble on set to find his thorazine.

    On topic: Mahler looks fascinating. If I can get caught up on studying I might just make it my first Russell on the (relatively) big screen.

    Off topic again: Speaking of big screens, noticed the poster for the AFS screening of King Kong while I was at the Carolina yesterday. Does one need be a member to attend?

  5. Ken Hanke

    On topic: Mahler looks fascinating. If I can get caught up on studying I might just make it my first Russell on the (relatively) big screen.

    Be sure to make your presence known if you do. Also, I’d suggest being there by 7:30. There’s never any telling, but last week was the first time in weeks where I didn’t end up watching the movie standing up.

    Off topic again: Speaking of big screens, noticed the poster for the AFS screening of King Kong while I was at the Carolina yesterday. Does one need be a member to attend?

    The only thing that you have to be a member to attend are the occasional free “word of mouth” screenings of new movies that are opening later in the week. The Tue. and Thu. films are free and open to everybody, and a showing like this is cheaper ($5) if you’re a member. Non-members are at regular ticket prices for King Kong.

  6. kjh.childers

    Ken
    Watched this film via the film @ youtube. And, I must admit my sincere astonishment in that I knew more Mahler in my head than I had previously believed. Not only his music, but his way of thinking, at least, from the standpoint of Robert Powell’s rendition of the great composer / conductor.

    I listen to this music and attempt to read O.Spengler’s Der Untergang des Abendlandes, a contemporary of Mahler’s own musical genius. Mahler’s music, to me, opens the flood gates of Spengler’s vision. Decadence, Decline and Death of Civilization seems to me to be the core of each man. Mahler via music … was a catalyst of decline in all its natural order, and he found the music of that era prior to WWI … a war which Mahler didn’t see in his lifetime.

    I like most the Russell’s ideas in regards to Mahler sitting in his small lakehouse, attempting to compose in total silence. I cannot remember the scene # … but Mahler reflects on this silence. I seek such solace myself.

    Ken, a small recommendation … listen to Jim Cole and Spectral Voices. I write while listening to this sound as a mentions to find that place where Mahler wanted to go and be his music.

    A fascinating film, Ken … I look forward to watching it again.

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