Tchaikovsky, Ken Russell Style

“The Music Lovers.” This film in my opinion is the greatest of the composer biopics ever.  Period.  Another composer flick and arguably the most popular of them all, Amadeus,  borrowed a couple things here and there such as the nuthouse ending.

What really makes me sick is when people bitch about whether a biopic is totally factual.  Give me a break.  If you want factual, go to a library and check out a book.

The film was panned by several reviewers, which leads me to my next complaint.  Popular film reviewers should stay the hell out of art house film.  You critics have no clue.  You’ve been going out twice a week handing three stars to any Hollywood film that has a beginning, middle, and ending.  The reviewer statements listed below are remarkably stupid.  One gets the feeling that since  Russell pointed a hypothetical microscope at Tchaikovsky’s sexuality (you know he was gay, right?), that it offended the critics and the poor citizens circa the western world, 1970.

Here are some of the wacky review lines from back in the day:

Vincent Camby of the New York Times –  “Mr. Russell has told us a lot less about Tchaikovsky and his music than he has about himself as a filmmaker . . . [His] speculations are not as offensive as his frontal — and often absurd — attacks on the emotions.”

Roger Ebert Chicago Sun Times- “an involved and garish private fantasy” and “totally irresponsible as a film about, or inspired by, or parallel to, or bearing a vague resemblance to, Tchaikovsky, his life and times.”

Time – “Seventy-seven years have passed since Tchaikovsky’s death. In this epoch of emancipated morality, it would be reasonable to expect that his life would be reviewed with fresh empathy. But no; the same malignant attitudinizing that might have been applied decades ago is still at work .

Give me a break.  My readers probably agree just by watching this couple minute clip that the film is outstanding (note Swan Lake in there)

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3 thoughts on “Tchaikovsky, Ken Russell Style

  1. If you weren’t there, you have to realise that at that time all artistic heroes and heroines were expected to be good and true and straight as an arrow. Russell also caught Hell for revealing that Frederick Delius died from the effects of tertiary syphilis in his biopic for the TV show Monitor. The relationship between Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas was never discussed. William S. Burroughs published “Junky” (AKA”Junkie”) under a penname to protect himself and his family. Truman Capote played the harmless “poof”, so as to laughter than ire.

    Thankfully, for the most part, those days are gone, except for the occasional artist that feels that he or she must establish their career before they finally “come out.”

  2. Oops. What I think I meant to say is, “Truman Capote played the “harmless poof” so as to (garner/engender/inspire) laughter rather than ire.” Proof reading is all.

    I also forgot to mention, which was my original intention, that these critics should became familiar with the musical term “fantasia”, defined in my copy of The American Heritage Dictionary (ca. 1979) as: n. Music. 1. A freeform composition, structured according to the composer’s fancy. 2. A medleyof familiar themes, with variations and interludes.

    All the best.

  3. Nice points, Steve. Agreed on the fantasia mention. The most curious description posted was “attack on the emotions.” The next time I sit down to watch a Ken Russell film, I’ll be sure to bring along some Prozac.

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