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THE MUSIC LOVERS

Ken Russell | 1971 | 120 MINS
UK
Ken Russell’s 1970 production stars Glenda Jackson as Tchaikovsky’s wife and makes for an interesting comparison with the new Serebrennikov Russian version, which has its UK premiere in our festival.

In Detail

Ken Russell depicts the composer (Richard Chamberlain) as a closet homosexual who is haunted by the past and present. In order to obtain social acceptance, he marries Tina, a nymphomaniac (Glenda Jackson).

Their marriage proves a disaster and Peter flees, isolating himself in the countryside to compose music for Madame Von Meck (Isabella Telezynska), a rich aristocrat and widow. When she is informed of his sexual past, she immediately distances herself from him. That past comes back to haunt him several times before the film's conclusion.

However rife with inaccuracies, ‘The Music Lovers’ occasionally elicits tantalising flashes of truth: the moment of madness during the composition of the violin concerto; Tchaikovsky’s mixing fact and fiction during the composition of ‘Eugene Onegin’; the brief glimpse of his benefactress during a stay at her apartment; the failed suicide attempt, etc. Unlike Serebrennikov, Russell forefronts Tchaikovsky’s music, recorded by Andre Previn with the London Symphony. The script was partly written by Melvyn Bragg. Unless you are seeking the whole truth, ‘The Music Lovers’ is well worth watching, if only for its being so gloriously over the top! Our screening is a tribute to the late Glenda Jackson.

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