Director: Ken Russell
Year Released: 1974
On a train trip with his wife Alma (Georgina Hale), Austrian composer Gustav Mahler (Robert Powell) - sick physically (he has a bum ticker) and emotionally - has flashbacks to his earlier years: living with his stern father, learning how to swim and spending happy days at the lake house with Alma (she later has an affair with a soldier). Being a Ken Russell production, the truth is hurled off a cliff to make way for his embellishments and flights of fancy, although trying to probe Mahler's psyche in this manner doesn't yield positive results: for Gustav's conversion to Christianity (he was born Jewish), Russell shows him begging at the feet of Richard Wagner's wife ... who is dressed as a Nazi (oh, and there's also a giant sword in the ground and a severed pig's head and lots of flames). All this reveals less about the musician - who's given a few clunkers to say, like "A symphony is a farewell to love" and "I don't want to imitate nature, I want to capture its very essence" - than about Russell himself (who even uses the opportunity to bash Visconti).