Wagner DVD

Tony Palmer, 1984


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Film Details

Directed by Tony Palmer

Produced in 1984

Main Language - English

Countries & Regions - British Film

Film Description

Tony Palmer's exhaustive TV biopic of the German composer Richard Wagner stars Richard Burton in the title role. Described by Richard Hornak in Opera News as 'one of the most beautiful motion pictures in history', it was originally made in 1982-83 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Wagner’s death. Filmed in 200 locations throughout Europe, many where the actual historical events took place, with a team from 19 different countries, the entire production was completed in less than a year. Sadly it was to be Richard Burton’s last major role, but the stellar cast assembled partly because of him - Olivier, Gielgud, Vanessa Redgrave, Ralph Richardson, Franco Nero, Marthe Keller, Gemma Craven, Gwyneth Jones, Peter Hofmann, Arthur Lowe, Ekkehardt Schall (Brecht’s son-in-law), Joan Greenwood, Sir William Walton, Gabriel Byrne, Andrew Cruickshank – the list is endless.

Though in great pain and too old to be really convincing in Wagner's young revolutionary period, Burton is perfect as this smouldering genius ages, with his peremptory air and abrupt, biting speech. The film tries to rival The Ring in its length and sweep, has an incredible dramatic and operatic cast, and Wagner's music, which underscores the action, is conducted by the late Sir George Solti.

Recognised early in his career for his groundbreaking talents, Wagner is feted by European society until his scandalous and radical political views force him into exile in Zurich. There he meets the young Nietzsche (Ronald Pickup), and has a major influence on the philosopher. At the same time, Wagner begins a scandalous relationship with the composer Liszt's illigitimate daughter. Reactionary, anti-semitic and obsessed with money, Wagner still goes on to prove himself as a major force in German and European culture after completing his epic 'Ring' cycle of operas.


DVD Details

Certificate: 15

Publisher: TONYP

Length: 466 mins

Aspect ratio: Widescreen

Format: DVD Colour

Region: 2

Released: 18th July 2011

Cat No: TPDVD157

DVD Extras

  • 3 discs
  • Digitally remastered
  • Edited and restored in high definition as originally intended
  • Widescreen

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Community Reviews

by PAUL RONAYNE on 28th September 2009

Tony Palmer's massive biopic of the incredible life and works of Richard Wagner is realised by an ailing Richard Burton. Too long for mainstream cinema success and too... Read on


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