Original poster for Spanish version of Mahler
|Directed by||Ken Russell|
|Produced by||Roy Baird|
|Written by||Ken Russell|
|Music by||Gustav Mahler|
|Edited by||Michael Bradsell|
|Distributed by||Mayfair Films (U.S.)|
Visual Programme Systems Ltd. (UK)
|24 October 1974 (Belgium)|
February 1975 (U.S.)
|Budget||£193,000 or £168,000 |
Mahler is a 1974 biographical film based on the life of Austro-Bohemian composer Gustav Mahler. It was written and directed by Ken Russell for Goodtimes Enterprises, and starred Robert Powell as Gustav Mahler and Georgina Hale as Alma Mahler. The film was entered into the 1974 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Technical Grand Prize.
After a spectacular prelude, the film begins on a train journey with Gustav Mahler (Robert Powell) and his wife Alma (Georgina Hale) confronting their failing marriage. The story is then recounted in a series of flashbacks (some of which are surrealistic and nightmarish), taking one through Mahler's childhood, his brother's suicide, his experience with antisemitism, his conversion from Judaism to Catholicism, his marital problems, and the death of his young daughter. The film also contains a surreal fantasy sequence involving the anti-Semitic Cosima Wagner (Antonia Ellis), widow of Richard Wagner, whose objections to his taking control of the Court Opera were supposedly removed by his conversion to Catholicism. In the process, the film explores Mahler's music and its relationship to his life.
Some outdoor sections of the film were made in Borrowdale, in the English Lake District.
- Robert Powell as Gustav Mahler
- Gary Rich as Young Gustav
- Georgina Hale as Alma Mahler
- Lee Montague as Bernhard Mahler
- Miriam Karlin as Aunt Rosa
- Rosalie Crutchley as Marie Mahler
- Richard Morant as Max
- Angela Down as Justine Mahler
- Antonia Ellis as Cosima Wagner
- Ronald Pickup as Nick
- Peter Eyre as Otto Mahler
- Dana Gillespie as Anna von Mildenburg
- George Coulouris as Doctor Roth
- David Collings as Hugo Wolf
- Arnold Yarrow as Grandfather
- David Trevena as Doctor Richter
- Elaine Delmar as Princess
- Benny Lee as Uncle Arnold
- Andrew Faulds as Doctor on Train
- Otto Diamant as Professor Sladky
- Michael Southgate as Alois Mahler
- Ken Colley as Siegfried Krenek
- Sarah McClellan as Putzi
- Claire McClellan as Glucki
- Oliver Reed as Station Master (uncredited)
David Puttnam's company Goodtimes planned to make a series of six films about composers, all to be directed by Ken Russell. Subjects were to include Franz Liszt, George Gershwin and Vaughan Williams; they decided to do Mahler first. The National Film Finance Corporation removed its support prior to filming meaning Puttnam had to slash the budget from £400,000 to £180,000. Russell says Puttnam had no creative input into the film in contrast with their next collaboration, Lisztomania.
According to one account, by 1985 the film had recorded a net loss of £14,000. However Sandy Lieberson of Goodtimes said "the film sold everywhere and made a tidy profit." Russell also said the film made a profit but claimed in 1991 he had never seen any of his share.
- Alexander Walker, National Heroes: British Cinema in the Seventies and Eighties, Harrap, 1985 p 83
- Russell on his films Hunter, Charles. The Irish Times 2 Nov 1987: 14.
- Russell p 167
- "Festival de Cannes: Mahler". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
- Yule p 49-50
- Russell p 167
- Yule p 51
- Russell p 168
- Russell, Ken (1991). Altered States. Bantam.
- Yule, Andrew (1989). Fast fade : David Puttnam, Columbia Pictures, and the battle for Hollywood. Delacorte Press.