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Werner Schroeter mixes Stravinsky, Beethoven, Brahms, Maria Callas and Janis Joplin in this delirious biography of the doomed nineteenth-century mezzo-soprano, which he singled out as his most enduring masterpiece.
"Schroeter's magnum opus" (Chuck Stephens, Film Comment). Michel Foucault rhapsodized about The Death of Maria Malibran in a famous essay, and Schroeter himself considered this delirious biography of the nineteenth-century mezzo-soprano, whose beauty and glorious voice inspired Bellini and Rossini, his most enduring masterpiece. Recently restored to its deep-hued glory by the Eye Film Institute of Amsterdam, Malibran refashions details of the singer's life and death to suggest that, rather than expire after falling from a horse as she did in actuality, the mezzo sang herself to her demise at age twenty-eight: death by bel canto. Warhol diva Candy Darling joins Schroeter muses Magdalena Montezuma and Christine Kaufmann in a series of staring contests and impetuous musical performances (one of "St. Louis Blues" in blackface), while Fassbinder regular Ingrid Caven, crowned by copper ringlets, glimmers like a latter-day Botticelli dipped in butterscotch. With a Napster music track ranging through Stravinsky, Brahms, Janis Joplin, Maria Callas, Beethoven and Dolores del Rio, The Death of Maria Malibran is "staggering . . . a masterpiece of a wholly different sort of cinema" (Stephens). "Of a creative perversity that bespeaks the presence of genius" (Amos Vogel).