Mark Rappaport – Mozart in Love (1975)

Mark Rappaport’s second feature film (amongst a remarkable string of off-beat, experimental narratives that runs from CASUAL RELATIONS to CHAIN LETTERS) takes off from the deliberate anachronism of using modern props, performance styles and attitudes to evoke the romantic entanglements of the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Rich La Bonte) with three sisters: Constanza (Margot Breier), Sophie (Sasha Nanus) and Louisa (Sissy Smith). This melodramatic plot of rejection, pining and sacrifice may have its basis in reality, but everything else is strictly stylized: back-projected settings, mix-and-match historical costumes, primary-colored walls, actors striking poses and the miming to records of Mozart arias, frequently interrupted by the raw audio track of real, untrained singing. For Rappaport, the ideological myths we internalize and the soap operas we live have to be exposed and mocked, just as the constructed illusion we call filmic realism has to be relentlessly dismantled. Both very much of its time (a cousin to contemporaneous works by Yvonne Rainer) and ahead of its time (anticipating the droll strategies of Hal Hartley), MOZART IN LOVE offers a handy checklist of the many acute, often hilarious games of disenchantment devised by this ever-inventive artist.

The film traces itself out like a diagram. Mozart falls for the eldest sister, Louisa, but she does not love him back. The youngest one, Sophie, loves Mozart, but this is a further instance of unreciprocated longing. The prodigious composer ends up settling for the middle sister, Constanza. The rivalry, intended or inevitable, among the women leads first to separations and later to reunions—but both the freeze-out and the reconciliation are presented to us as weird tableaux of “acting out,” people unconsciously seeking and taking up their roles in an age-old, pre-written tale. They suffer nobly, love honorably, die beautifully. Or, at least, they think they do, in their heads—and in the exterior projection of those mental images that Rappaport so ironically and bitingly devises.

1.22GB | 1h 37mn | 720×540 | mkv


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