Monday, November 28, 2011

r.i.p. ken russell

ken russell on set with twiggy during filming of the boy friend,  1971

ken russell on the set of women in love, 1969

ken russell & ringo starr on the set of lisztomania, 1975

vanessa redgrave in the devils, 1971

william hurt in altered states, 1980

aria,  1987

dante's inferno, 1967

kathleen turner, crimes of passion, 1984

amanda donohoe in lair of the white worm, 1988

roger daltry in tommy, 1975

gothic, 1986

women in love, 1969

ken russell, enfant terrible of british cinema, died on sunday in his sleep at the age of 84. "it was completely unexpected" said his widow elize tribble who was 'devastated' by her husband's death.

one of the most acclaimed & controversial directors of his generation, he made his name with the sexually graphic 1969 adaptation of d h lawrence's women in love, starring glenda jackson, oliver reed & alan bates, which earned him an oscar nomination & international recognition (the fact that oliver reed wrestled naked with alan bates may have had something to do with the controversy.) oliver reed also starred along with vanessa redgrave in the 1971 film, the devils, a movie so incendiary that it was only announced this month that the x-rated british version (cut pre-release) would finally be receiving a dvd release next year.

he was a unique, provocative, flamboyant & visually stunning director. i still remember the first time i saw the devils - i had just moved to los angeles and discovered the z channel.  i would obsess over a director and rent everything they had done until i eventually saw most of the classics.  i loved the mix of horror, religion & camp that his films were. i was just telling some (younger!) friends about altered states when we were in joshua tree recently & how they had to rent it....i always felt like the "cool" girl because i was turned onto ken russell's work.  his list of films and actors that he worked with over & over is stunning in their individuality and vision. he was a true voice & gift to cinema. if you haven't seen his films, definitely seek them out - your mind will be blown, just a little.

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