Mahler (film)


Original poster for Spanish version of Mahler
Directed by Ken Russell
Produced by Roy Baird
Written by Ken Russell
Starring Robert Powell
Georgina Hale
Lee Montague
Music by Bernard Haitink
Gustav Mahler
Richard Wagner
Cinematography Dick Bush
Edited by Michael Bradsell
Distributed by Mayfair Films (U.S.)
Visual Programme Systems Ltd. (UK)
Release dates
24 October 1974 (Belgium)
February 1975 (U.S.)
Running time
115 min
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £193,000[1]

Mahler is a 1974 biographical film based on the life of 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.[2]


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 anti-semitism, 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.


The music score of the movie consists of recordings by the Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by Bernard Haitink.


By 1985 the film had recorded a net loss of £14,000.[1]


  1. 1 2 Alexander Walker, National Heroes: British Cinema in the Seventies and Eighties, Harrap, 1985 p 83
  2. "Festival de Cannes: Mahler". Retrieved 2009-04-26.
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