5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Tempestuous music demands a tempestuous drama.,,
This review is from: The Music Lovers 1970 DVD (DVD)
Wow! All the dramatics of Amadeus - and then some! That was Mozart, this is Tchaikovsky.
To say Mr Russell had a vivid imagination is an underestimation and a half. Forthright film critic Mark Kermode constantly reminded us that the (now) late, Ken Russell was Britain's (or England's, I can't remember which) finest, living director. Mark Kermode often divides opinion, especially mine and so I assumed that he was wrong.
The Music Lovers will knock the woolly old dears off their perches - classical music being so pure and saintly and all that. BUT, it was the rock'n'roll of its day; its blood, sinew and its sex. People didn't always listen to it dressed to the nines in some chaste church or hall. People orgasmed (or would have, if they'd had a record player), argued and got drunk to it. Their protagonists were the rock stars of their time.
So, why not have exploding heads to the crescendo of the 1812 climax? Would Tchaikovsky seriously have expected us to want to fall asleep instead? Richard Chamberlaine never puts a foot wrong and I'm so glad that Alan Bates turned the role down. Chamberlaine is both elegant and troubled and cuts a dash that Bates cannot. Glenda Jackson as his fiery nymphomaniac wife is, as always superb. Her intent, to net a trophy husband is never off her radar and the film follows this theme.
The period feel is always believable and feels authentic.
Boring moments? No - I was entertained, blown away and exhilarated, often all at the same time. The sound quality (at least on my DVD) was amazing, the Andre Previn conducting the London Symphony Orchestra score having a wide stereo and dramatic range. The way Russell montages the increasingly frantic hand-held camera with the music is breathtaking. To get both Previn and the LSO as well as Melvyn Bragg's script shows the obvious cinematic clout that Russell had back then. These were all big-hitters in 1970. The years leading to his death, however, Russell couldn't get funding to make anything other than home movies.
Hopefully, there'll now be a surge in interest in the films of Ken's and this should be at or near the top of the list that you should try out.