Director Ken Russell, R.I.P.
Ken Russell with model Twiggy
Ken Russell, the director behind the Oscar-winning Women in Love has died aged 84. Russell died on Sunday in his sleep, according to his friend, the arts writer Norman Lebrecht.
Known for a flamboyant style developed during his early career in television, Russell’s films mixed high and low culture with rare deftness and often courted high controversy. The Devils … a religious drama that featured an infamous scene between Oliver Reed and Venessa Redgrave sexualising the crucifixion – was initially rejected by Warner Brothers. It will be released in its entirety in March next year, 42 years after it was made, when it will form part of the British Board of Film Classification’s centenary celebrations.
Women in Love, released in 1969, became notorious for its nude male wrestling scene between Alan Bates and Oliver Reed, while Tommy, his starry version of The Who‘s rock opera, was his biggest commercial success, beginning as a stage musical before being reimagined for the screen in 1976. But Russell fell out of the limelight in recent years, as some of his funding dried up and his proposed projects became ever more eclectic. He returned to the public eye in 2007, when he appeared on the fifth edition of Celebrity Big Brother, before quitting the show after a disagreement with fellow contestant Jade Goody. -[The Guardian]
Among the many other films not mentioned in the above piece, Ken Russell also released the psychedelic sci-fi horror classic Altered States, a personal favorite. Ken Russell, R.I.P… you will be missed. Check out a few out of print Ken Russell films, and some montages from Tommy and Altered States, below (note some NSFW).
Elton John – Pinball Wizard – Tommy (1975) [HD]
The Who – I’m Free – Tommy (1975)
Altered States trailer
The Lair of the White Worm (1988) Trailer (NSFW)
The Devils (NSFW)