Dir: Ken Russell
Starring: Robert Powell and Georgina Hale
A film exploring the music and life of the Austrian composer Gustav Mahler
Most of this biographical film is made up of flashbacks, some of which are surrealistic and nightmarish, taking place as Mahler (Robert Powell) and his wife Alma (Georgina Hale) take a train journey from Bavaria to Vienna. Most of these scenes were filmed on the Bluebell Railway and made use of a train being hauled back and forth between Sheffield Park and Horsted Keynes stations by BR Standard Class 4MT 4-6-0 No.75027, hardly a typical Austrian loco from the 1920s. Mahler and his wife traveled in Great Northern Railway Director’s Saloon No.43909, with LBSCR Special Saloon No.60 and SR Maunsell Brake Corridor Composite No.6686 forming the rest of the train, though only the coach interiors are seen. The nameboards at Horsted Ketnes were changed to such exotic places as ‘Lambach’, ‘Saint Pölten’, and ‘Vöcklabruck’, but even odder is the scene at the end of the film that was shot at London Marylebone with a BR blue-liveried Class 115 DMU in attendance! As an interesting aside, a number of extras were used to ‘fill’ the station platforms at Horsted Keynes to make it look like a busy station on the continent. However, as most volunteers on the railway at the time were male, some had to dress in drag! The lack of numbers also presented a logistical problem in how to create the crowds. The answer to this saw volunteers walk out of shot to carry out a swift change of clothes behind the bookstall with the help of the wardrobe assistants, before walking back into shot in a different get up altogether!!