Composer Peter Tchaikovsky (Richard Chamberlain) abandons his intimate friend, Count Chiluvsky (Christopher Gable), when Madame Von Meck (Izabella Telezynska) sponsors him after she hears him perform his First Piano Concerto. A tortured man, unhappy except in his music, Tchaikovsky marries Nina Milukova (Glenda Jackson), a passionate, neurotic girl. When he is unable to fulfill the demands of matrimony, his tensions become so great that he attempts suicide and has a nervous breakdown. Nina's world also falls apart, and she deteriorates into madness and ends in an asylum. Tchaikovsky recuperates at a country estate of Madame Von Meck. The two correspond, but never meet. At a great party, which she gives in his honor Count Chiluvsky appears, and when Tchaikovsky rebuffs him, he tells Madame Von Meck the truth about her protege. Madame Von Meck immediately servers all connections with the composer. Tchaikovsky is hurt, but continues to compose and conduct throughout the world. World fame does not ameliorate his unhappy state. At the age of 53, after composing his "requiem," his Pathetique Symphony, he deliberately drinks water contaminated with cholera germs. A few days later he is dead. Decades later, his music still lives.
Ken Russell strikes again
- The Music Lovers review by Pete W
Although this film got dreadful reviews, I think it is a good attempt at a biographical account of the life of Tchaikovsky. It's mid way between the understated Russell biopics of Elgar and Delius and the overblown Mahler and Lisztomania. Richard Chamberlain is surprisingly good and, if he isn't actually a concert pianist, he certainly knows how to act convincingly like one. Watch him bash out the first piano concerto!
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Best Ever Ken Russell Film
- The Music Lovers review by PV
I loved this film. I watched it on TV in the 80s or 90s, but saw so much when watching it again. True, I do love the music of Tchaivovsky, which helps, but I think most people would love this movie. It's fun, exhuberant, theatrical, interesting and risky - all the things most if not all movies by Brit directors are not these days. The screenplay is from a book by a relative of the composer's sponsor, so it's all pretty true and a cracking good tragic story too. The only inaccuracy is that Peter Tchaivoksky's death came about because he made a pass at the Tsar's nephew - buy anyhow, the film rises and falls like a great symphony....................................... Just as tragic really to think that Ken Russell could not get funding from the BBC or Channel 4 (which is funded by our BBC cash) to make any films whatsoever in the last 25 years of his life - so self-funded and financed small digital video movies. And yet our money financed dross like Sex Lives of the Potato Men and loads of gritty, realistic, utterly tedious films by young Scottish female directors...
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