4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A More Delicate Ken Russell...,
This review is from: Mahler [DVD] (DVD)
Most of us who've taken an interest in 'our Ken', especially recently after his death and some fascinating documentaries popped up about the great man, know that he started out making TV documentaries about the Great composers.
So, obviously, he's in his element here and whilst I've not had chance to see the rarer and expensive of these, out of the ones I have, about Tchaikovsky (The Music Lovers), and Liszt (Lisztomania), 'Mahler' is the most straightforward, less contentious and 'messed with', shall we say...
Personally, I rather like it when Ken added his personal 'flourishes'. Neither being religious, nor from any target from his heavy symbolism, I'm never really offended by anything that he did. When it got ugly, or stupid, or at a tangent that took it away from the subject entirely, as he did big time in Lisztomania, that's different, of course.
Robert Powell is a perfect Gustav Mahler - a fairly delicate individual, who, with his little round glasses and curly hair, looks every bit the intellectual. Much being filmed in the Lake District, there's some stunning scenery and Ken's eye never fails us, stylistically, in period detail or in composition.
Not being a huge fan of Classical music, that side has less importance for me but the score always seems entirely apt and suitable. The sound quality on the DVD, being excellent on The Music Lovers, is a rather tinny mono-sounding affair, here, which takes the dramatic edge off it. You need to turn it up for the score to resonate in time with some of the flamboyant set pieces.
Ken is well known now, for having been the one who turned boring biographies of long-dead creators of music into living and breathing programmes, turning the way such were made on their heads, whilst at the BBC. I do prefer The Music Lovers slightly, as it's more fiery but Mahler has a beauty, soul and understanding that one might not expect from the red-faced bellowing Mr Russell. For those interested in Ken's work, or Robert Powell, or indeed the composer himself, this is essential.