Young Toscanini, DVD of the 1988 film directed by Franco Zeffirelli
Introductory Note: I recently stumbled onto the prolific Amazon reviewer Herbert H. Highstone and I so enjoyed reading his exuberant, strongly opinionated critiques, I am sharing one – the first of many, I hope – here with you. In an age of puff pieces and ego massaging, Mr. Highstone is refreshingly and fearlessly frank. Bravissimo and encore!
Totally Delirious Excess – Mr. Z Does Not Disappoint US!
I caught a glimpse of this outrageous movie on late night TV. This film includes a delirious, dream-like staging of Verdi's Aida that goes far beyond excess in a way that will delight the loyal fans of Mr. Z! Elizabeth Taylor, wearing very heavy brown makeup, looks dazed and confused as for once in her life she is totally outstaged by the most monstrous production of Aida that you can't imagine until you see it on your own screen.
Jewels! Gold! Four-foot trumpets blaring out the famous triumphal march! Even the mad King Ludwig would be pleased by this lunatic dream of a movie. The actor playing the young Toscanini looks exactly like Dr. Zhivago, but who cares? We're on another planet and we're loving it! Verdi is totally conquered and overwhelmed by this postmodernist drama of infinitely lavish excess. Drag out your carefully hoarded bottle of absinthe and get ready for the head trip of all head trips!