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Bride of the Wind: Alma's Loss of Independence

Bruce Beresford's Bride of the Wind is a captivating story of Alma Mahler who allows her talent and free spirit to be overshadowed by a series of imperious husbands and lovers. Alma was the inspiration for Gustav Mahler's successful compositions, Walter Gropius's architecture, and Oskar Kokoschka's famous painting Bride of the Wind. Undoubted genius was Alma's aphrodisiac, but it was this same prefernce of geniuses which caused turmoil and disoder in her life. Alma was the muse of her lovers because she was tolerant, self depriving, and insecure.

In the beginning of the film, Alma is potrayed as a person who does not care what others may think of her, including her own step father. She broke all the rules, from sneaking off to "inappropriate" parties to seducing a man twice her age, Gustav Mahler. The first sign of tolerance was when she gave up her passion for composing when asked to by Gustav before being married. During the marriage she was a very devoted wife but once again was tolerant to him isolating her and basically choosing music above all other things. Instead of Gustav giving Alma the attention of a wife he treated her rather like a secretary, keeping him financially balanced, making copies of his compositions, and accompanying him to events like a sidekick. She was very tolerant with her other lovers, including Oskar's violent behavior whenever he became frustrated with her or impatient because she would not accept his hand in marriage. Alma also accepted criticism from Walter towards her choice to keep Oskar's paintings. As she was tolerant with the men she chose to be with at the same time, she was being very selfish with herself.

Before marrying Gustav, Alma was a relatively liberated woman who enjoyed composing, playing the paino, and intellectual dinners where she was the most outspoken woman. Musically, she deprived herself from composing because of the agreement she had made and playing her beloved music for the world to hear. She also deprived herself from giving Gustav her opinion towards his music like she used to before she married him. After she returned from the rehabilitation spa, she found herself keeping in touch Walter, the architect she had fallen in love with. Because she was a devoted wife, she kept herself from choosing the person she loved over the person she felt needed her in harsh and sickly moments. Overall, she gave up her happiness by losing her liberty to be with the man she loved or enjoy the simple pleasures of making music.

Alma was a musical genius, but her insecurity drove her to the arms to men who she shielded herself with brilliantly artistic men to conceal her own capabilities. Her insecurity started in the beginning of her career when she was told that her music was too complex and after she stopped composing she would only play when she was alone, as if she was hiding away. She celebrated the accomplishments of Gustav, Walter, and Oskar, yet did not dare to challenge them or at all mention her musical talents. Instead, she refers to herself as "I am the widow of Gustav Mahler, the great composer". She completely discredits herself! She also embraces the creations of her ex lovers, for example, keeping a statue Mahler's head or Kokoschka's old drawings. What about her own productions? She keeps them unexposed.

In the end, Alma found in Franz Werfel a soul mate. She'd finally met a man who set her spirit free. He believed in her and for a change admired and encouraged her compositions. For the first time Alma was celebrated and not celebrating. Although Franz was also an amazing author he did not consider Alma an amateur artist like her past lovers did. In fact, now she was being treated with the respect she deserved, not a trophy. She was relieved from her puppet strings and became a freed soul.