Lisztomania (Ken Russell, 1975)

Composer and pianist Franz Liszt attempts to overcome his hedonistic lifestyle while repeatedly being drawn back into it by the many women in his life and fellow composer Richard Wagner.

Roger Daltrey, Sara Kestelman, Paul Nicholas, Ringo Starr, Rick Wakeham

Watching this again brought this enterprise (writing these notes) to a stop for a while. I've always had this trouble with Ken Russell - or at least with his more outrageous films. You want to respect him for his association with respectable high art subjects like Delius and Isadora Duncan - and this one has, obviously, Liszt, as well as Richard Wagner.
But he is also a naughty little boy who has a compulsion to say 'poo wee bum' in the drawing-room, in front of the adults. So we have a giant phallus etc. etc. And it's not just about sex. He's also outrageous with politics, history, whatever. So Richard Wagner has an electric guitar which is actually an inexhaustible machine-gun with which he mows down a streetful of caricatural Jews. Of course it's offensive, but it is eke so infantile that the best thing to do is to ignore it and hope the perpetrator grows up.
The last thing I saw of Russell's came out in 1997, and he didn't die until 2011, aged 84, but I doubt very much that he did (grow up).
Well, I'm glad I've dealt with that, and can move on to something worthwhile.

Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 9 June, 2017 | Now: 9 June, 2017