Samhot | Star Land | 06/27/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I stumbled upon this film knowing that it was based on Alma Mahler, the woman who was married to classical composer Gustav Mahler. Since Mahler is a huge fascination of mine, I was compelled to watch this film. While Gustav Mahler seemed to be the central focus of the story in the first half, Alma Mahler gets more of the spotlight during the second, which makes this seem like two different films.Like another reviewer stated, if you're a history/research buff, you may notice some loopholes or inaccuracies within the story. However, I'm guessing that this wasn't really intended to be epic material. Other than that, the film is quite artistic, beautiful and seductive. In the first half of the movie, it was nice to see Mahler (played by Jonathan Pryce) conducting parts of his 5th symphony, and some of his other pieces, while gaining a little bit of insight into the personality and thought-processes of the composer, however accurate they were. Some of those scenes were painful to watch (especially when Mahler found out he had heart problems, and he was going to die.) Elsewhere, like the critic said on the page, Sarah Wynter as Alma, had a seductive air about her, as she portrays a woman with talent, lust, passion and heartache. Some of the love scenes in here were quite steamy as well.Overall, if you have interest in Gustav Mahler, Alma Mahler or any of the other historical figures involved in the story, I'd recommend that you view this. Despite not being the most serious or epic of documentaries, there's more than enough ear and eye candy to keep you fascinated."
Lawrence A. Schenbeck | Atlanta, GA USA | 11/29/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Filmmakers who attempt biopics -- lives of the great and near-great -- face a daunting task. Great creative souls are not like you and me. Their lives are usually filled with the kind of ambition, arrogance, dedication to art (and themselves), and personal tics that make them poor dinner companions. But anyone setting out to make a movie -- an inherently popular medium -- will soon feel pressured to fashion characters with whom we can sympathize, even identify. Hence the weaknesses in "Bride of the Wind."Alma Mahler Gropius Werfel either married, or had affairs with, half the great creative men of early 20c. Vienna (thank you, Tom Lehrer!) What did she have that they all wanted? To find out, you'll have to look elsewhere. This film's Alma never reveals the passion, intelligence, and wit that got her Gustav and Walter and Franz. Instead, the movie implies that she gets Mahler interested in her by making a few insulting (and shallow) remarks about his music. When their relationship begins to cool, it's because, among other things, he's been forgetting her birthday.Mahler himself comes off as an odd combination of diffidence and arrogance; onscreen he displays little of the legendary manic energy and hyperemotive behavior that made his performances at the Court Opera seem revolutionary. I guess the director wanted to stress, in conventional screenplay terms, that he was an Older Man. Even the music he conducts onscreen is taken at a geriatric pace, slower than any of the great recordings of those scores.Things pick up once Alma moves on to Gropius, and especially when she takes up with Kokoschka and Werfel. Yet a kind of dusty solemnity continues to hang over the proceedings, aided by the beautiful but underlit settings and some very pedestrian dialogue. Renee Fleming fans will enjoy the last scene, and so will folks who enjoy parodies of "American Graffiti."For music aficionados only: The guy with the bald head in several scenes is Arnold Schoenberg, a genius whose wildly unconventional music helped form the basis of 20c. classical style. Unless I fell asleep (and I may have), he doesn't get to utter a single word. I consider that symptomatic of the whole movie's effort to turn these tortured souls into Ordinary People."
Much better than the critics are saying!
S. A. Felton | southern OR USA | 12/09/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am writing this review to balance the incredibly negative reviews
I have read about "Bride of the Wind." I read the reviews before and
after seeing the movie, and I am aghast at what I've read - reviewers
who happily give 4 (out of 4) stars to (I won't say it) like "Breaking the
Waves" and "Signs" give this 1/2 star. Or how about "Fargo" and "The Big
Lebowski?" I think it's a travesty, and I wonder if there isn't some agenda
that big-budget movies with top stars have to be reviewed favorably for the
reviewer to be "in," while a movie like this can be trashed so unfairly. "Bride
of the Wind" deserves more merit than most movies if for no other reason than
it attempts to seriously portray the life of one of the 20th century's finest
(opera) conductors/composers, though here obviously focusing on his talented,
beautiful, outspoken, sometimes even callous wife, who indeed has numerous
affairs before, during (!), and after his death. Clearly the moviemakers focus
on Alma because she outlives Mahler by more than 50 years, and has a more
"racey" life. I've been a fan of Mahler's symphonies for years, and I felt that the
producers of "Bride of the Wind" correctly chose to focus the bulk of the
movie on Mahler and Alma. I found the performances of the actors who played
the great composer and his wife more than acceptable, though not for a moment
would I call them "perfect." I was pleased with the selection of some of Mahler's
symphonies and songs (though the musician who recommended the movie to me said
that the conducting sequences were very poor!). I enjoyed Alma's frankly saying
what many have felt about Mahler's long, operatic-like symphonies when they first
met - that is a topic of its own, for sure, though Mahler has won out over time,
thanks to supporters like the greats Bernstein and Shostakovich. If not, perhaps
no one would have ever made this movie. I also thought that the movie did a good
job of portraying the tensions in the Mahlers' marriage, the problems Mahler had
because he was a Jew who had to convert to Christianity to advance his career, the
outspokeness of Alma, as well as the tragic death of one of their daughters
(foreshadowed well and accurately during a scene when Alma asked Mahler why he
was composing music that sounded so tragic, when their lives were going so well).
I could go on and on praising what I felt were the good parts of this, the bulk
of the movie. The cinematography was also very well done throughout and realistic.
The lines for the minor players were for the most part well written and acted. Indeed after Mahler died Alma went on to a number of relationships
with artists of the highest talent, and I won't argue that this part of
the movie was as well done as her time with Mahler. But few movies, especially
movies that attempt to deal with complex lives and issues as this one, are perfect,
and other than the weird portrayal of the architect who became her second husband
(and who knows if the man wasn't as depicted in his personal life?), I found
the performances decent. The actor who played the passionate, expressionist painter
who somehow survived after being shot and bayonneted in WWI did a superb job. I must repeat, "Bride of the Wind" is maybe only a slightly above
average movie, but compared to the big-budget nonsense that praise
prostitution, misrepresent aliens and crop circles, trite "who dunnits,"
to say nothing of the gore and violence that are the mainstay of Hollywood
fare, the movie is easily worth watching (and enjoying) in my opinion."