Synopsis by Les Stone
This audacious, vulgar, freewheeling fantasia on the life of pianist Franz Liszt ranks among director Ken Russell's most outrageous efforts. Roger Daltrey, lead singer for The Who, is awkward yet likeable as the flamboyant piano performer with a bevy of fetching mistresses and groupies, while Paul Nicholas is completely outlandish as the scheming opera composer Richard Wagner. There's no nod to reality here: Liszt and Wagner were in fact friends, and Liszt, who became Wagner's father-in-law, actually assisted in the production of Wagner's opulent productions. Russell, on the other hand, presents Wagner as Liszt's jealous rival ready to wreak havoc on the world by unleashing a cryogenic Viking (Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman) and a horde of machine-gun wielding robot Nazis. In a finale out of Flash Gordon serials, Liszt saves the day after surviving a guillotine designed for phallic dismemberment. The film is fast and loud and wildly undisciplined, much like one of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsodies. Look fast and you'll see Ringo Starr as the pope.
music, classical-music, composer, obsession, performer