With The Devils (1971) and Tommy (1975), Ken Russell created a very powerful style that intimidated producers and divided the critics. However, he came a cropper with this ugly, migraine-inducing and mind-numbing bore.
Franz Liszt is here portrayed as a rock star, 1840-style, by Roger Daltrey of The Who. The shaggy-maned idol rips into his songs and the audience screams with excitement. Some ecstatic fans storm the stage, wanting simply to touch him. Some want to bear his child. One adoring woman announces she already has.
Paul Nicholas plays Richard Wagner (pictured above), while Ringo Starr is a natural as the Pope.
The result is a wild, kaleidoscopic romp, full of sexual symbolism, Carry On humour and Hammer horror send-ups – an epic of self-loathing, self-parody and self-destruction.
Countess Marie d’Agoult
Hans Von Bulow