He was knowledgable passionate and uncomprising. His concentration on the task is absolute, every gesture facial expression, every bead of sweat communicates is a beacon of love directing his intention, his will onto the orchestra and the music they are playing.
Although I think he is masterful and inspiring, and even if my gut says they are wrong, I have to listen to the voices that find him disturbing. Why do some find him wonderful wild and liberating, but others find him gross megalomaniac and frightening? I cannot deny they're there and I want to understand what they are seeing
The conductor/orchestra relationship is as close to a fascist relationship without being in a military uniform as you can get; one man ( it is usually a man being the leader of over a 100, where the codes of gender and class privilege are enshrined in the structure, the behaviour and dress is set, which enables Celibdache to go wild be free and wonderful. His ego is massive. It accepts the power granted him and he fully inhabits it.
At times during the film he goes cold looking directly and precisely at some section or person in the orchestra. His look is terrifying - there is something in the coldness and absolute focus and aim of his eye and gesture akin to the hunter or assassin who cold heartedly knows exactly precisely what they are doing.
Maybe those who find it frightening are disturbed by the power structure that allows him to go there, and that destroys any possibility that they might enjoy his performance. I reckon he would find an outlet for his work any way- he transcends the structure within which he works
When I see the film now- I see it as a something from the past, almost humorous I don't know if the unquestioning acceptance of his genius and power would happen in the same way now. I don't know if he would be given licence to do what he does, but whatever, it is worth seeing now and however one sees, it it is compelling, entertaining and food for thought.
As a postscript - I did a little light research around him which revealed a feud he'd had when conducting the Munich Philharmonic in the 80s with a woman trombonist who took him to task for sexism when he tried to ostracize her, saying he needed a male trombonist. They both dug in, it was a long feud that went on for years. She won. An account of it is in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink apparently. Does his old school sexism and bigotry negate all his virtues? Does his acceptance of the traditional orchestra structure and his 'maestro' status make him creepy and neuter his gifts? one of the charming aspects of the film is his playfulness- it is androgynous, that is surprising and charming- maybe later he felt he had to hide behind the masculinity of his position ...