Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mahler, the making of

Ken Russell’s Mahler is a film that could be perfect: excellent performances, excellent music (Mahler!), excellent costumes, the story is well told and it has the original touch of Ken Russell. However, most Russell fans think that this is the most “conventional” film of the “enfant terrible” of the British cinema. They are used to the bizarre and sometimes grotesque fantasies he adds to his films.
Mahler has the same story line of a common biopic: hero is at an important moment of his life (closer to the end), recalls some scenes from his pasts that are presented as a flashbacks. Flashbacks start with the hero’s childhood where a crucial event occurred. That could be the “conventional” part, but what Ken Russell added (and which made this film a master piece) was the “fantasies”. There are “normal” flashbacks while other moments are presented as a sort of allegory : The Funeral and The conversion scene are one of them.
The only thing I didn’t like of the film was this Funeral scene, the beginning is OK but by the end is too much, too grotesque, too Ken Russell-style! But the Conversion scene deserves the Oscar of the best scene ever made! We all would love to know how did he come with that idea. That’s why it could be great if the distributors release a new DVD with Ken Russell and Robert Powell commentaries.
While we wait for that wonderful day, I can say that at least I feel like I have already seen a bit of this   bonus : I’ve seen the story board of THE scene! And I’ll share it with you. Enjoy!

Click on the image to enlarge

Click on the image to enlarge
I found this jewel on Ebay, where I found this press book which accompanied the film release. Other exclusive pictures this press book contains are the designs for the costumes commented by Shirley Russell, Ken Russell’s wife and costume designer for the film. People must not forget that the film was appraised the Cannes film festival for its costumes in 1974. Robert was a contestant for the best actor prize that year, and he should have won! Instead a certain Jack Nicholson won the prize for the film “The Last Detail” that most of us have never seen.
Click on the image to enlarge
Click on the image to enlarge
Robert’s performance was one of my favorites and to me one of the best: with little make up or other tricks, he was convincing as a sick embittered aged man and through all the flashbacks scenes where the character was younger and passionate.
Before I leave you, I’ll bring another Monty Python curiosity: have you noticed that the rocky scenery used for the Conversion scene looks exactly like the one used in the killer rabbit scene of Monty Python and the Holy Grial?

I always find that scene even funnier when I think Robert will appear at any moment and will jump a ring of fire and eath a pigs nose.

Well, I could talk (write!) for hours about this film. It’s just perfect, wonderful, beautiful! I LOVE IT!!!

"I compose to live, I live to compose.”

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