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 FAREWELL KEN RUSSELL

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laserkb

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Posts : 165
Join date : 2011-03-29
Age : 67
Location : Derbyshire

PostSubject: FAREWELL KEN RUSSELL   Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:17 pm

Saddened to learn of the death of maverick director Ken Russell at 84. I know he had his detractors but he relished his battles with the reactionary forces of conservative Britain in the 60s and 70s, and to those who knew him, or, like me, just loved his movies, he was a genius and a visionary. He could make some turkeys (VALENTINO anyone?) but when he was at his best there was no one to touch him.

I still remember sitting in front of the super-huge screen of the Sheffield Odeon watching TOMMY in concert-level sound. I was just blasted away. And I have very fond memories of WOMEN IN LOVE (and its later sequel THE RAINBOW) because both used locations in my home area of Derbyshire and Notts.

However, his own true political masterpiece was the oh-so-daring THE DEVILS. Again, I was lucky enough to see this in a cinema before it was pulled by the local thought police from the council. For those who never saw it, its reputation has probably led them to believe it's some sort of depraved non-stop orgy of decadence and perversion. (Well, there's a bit of that in it!) But in truth, it's a devastating indictment of the corruption and cruelty created when the Church and the State enter into an unholy alliance. This was heavy stuff back in 1970 and remains a contentious issue today. The film's pedigree was immaculate - inspired by real events with a screenplay based on Aldous Huxley's book and John Whiting's successful play, music by Peter Maxwell Davies, set designs by Derek Jarman and top-notch acting throughout from the likes of Oliver Reed, Vanessa Redgrave and Gemma Jones - this was a film deserving of plaudits and awards, not censure and brickbats. However, those were more repressive times but sadly the controversy has dogged this film for over 40 years.

Never released on laserdisc except in Japan, butchered by owners Warner Brothers and released here only in sub-standard VHS editions, I have for years campaigned along with others to get this movie back out into the public arena through the medium of DVD. A full restoration of THE DEVILS was made in 2004, Russell himself recorded a director's commentary, and there have been occasional screenings at the NFT and in the US, but it would have been so right, no, respectful is a better word, to have had this DVD released while Russell was still alive.

Well, he's gone now, still making movies up to the end but alas, only home movies with family and friends. Having become the film world's most famous pariah, it seems that no one would give him the money to make a proper film again. I shall miss him.

The only bit of good news here is that most of his best work IS still available on laserdisc (if you can find copies) AND THE DEVILS is at long last getting a proper DVD release courtesy of the BFI in March 2012. If you've only ever heard of this film, don't miss out this time. Ignore the hype and just marvel at what Alexander Walker called Russell's "appalling talent". I think Ken took that as a compliment - it would make a great epitaph!
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PeaceMaker1

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Join date : 2011-04-19
Age : 54
Location : Warwickshire

PostSubject: Ken Russell R.I.P.   Wed Nov 30, 2011 3:09 am

Just recently acquired this to my collection...

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I know that it is not one of his very best, but now I am all the more glad to have it, and as a young man, seeing a naked woman rolling around on the floor of a train-carriage is striking, erotic and disrutbing all at the same time...which, I suspect, is exactly what he was aiming for Wink

Ken Russell, a great 'FILM' maker...as mad as a box of frogs...but a great 'FILM' maker none-the-less.
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