Say the name Maria Callas and a multitude of associations come to mind: diva extraordinaire; one of the greatest opera stars the world has ever known; lover of Aristotle Onassis; fashion icon. Callas was a larger-than-life personality, still remembered fondly by legions of fans around the world. And for the public of post-war Europe, she was an outsized celebrity whose image graced fashion magazines and whose antics were written up in gossip columns.
Philippe Kohly’s mesmerizing documentary is a survey of Callas’s entire life, dealing with the musician as well as the woman. While her career led to fame and fortune, it was also marred by a series of high-profile incidents that captured headlines around the world. And then there was the private Callas, the woman who weighed one hundred kilos in her twenties, married young, conducted a highly publicised affair with Onassis and became a star who hung around with the glitterati of society. A film for devotees and novices alike, Callas Assoluta shows us what superstars – and the elegant Europe of the sixties and seventies – used to look like.
Piers Handling, Toronto Film Festival Programme