Monday, 28 November 2011

Savage Messiah - Ken Russell RIP.

Mr and Mrs Ken Russell.

Following two recent strokes the brilliantly controversial British director Ken Russell has passed away. He was a larger than life character that I met at the Edinburgh Film Festival in 2010 for a very rare showing of Savage Messiah (1972). In Ken’s memory I reproduce the ramble as follows.

Savage Messiah

Ken at the 2010 Edinburgh FilmFestival.
 ‘Art is sex. Everything else is propaganda’. Watching this vibrant biopic six row’s behind one of the most infamous British directors of all time was quite surreal, it made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up: strange feeling! This very seldom seen movie (a DVD has never been released any where in the world) is based on the life of French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska and his infatuation with an older woman Sophie Brzeska, the love of his life. H S Ede’s book of the same name came from the letters exchanged between the pair. The book was adapted for the screen by Christopher Logue.

Dorothy Tutin plays Sophie in a performance that’s has to be seen to be believed; Henri is well served by the mysterious Scott Anthony who, we where informed by Ken Russell and his wife, has vanished from the face of the earth and cannot be found! How do you recommend this film, perhaps by just saying it’s a typical Ken Russell or perhaps pointing out that Derek Jarman designed the sets or maybe the very naked form of Helen Mirren who portrays the feisty suffragette Gosh Boyle with such panache? Visiting Tate Britain encouraged Russell to make this film he has, like some of his other movies, provided something once seen, you’re never forget.

British cinema will miss the likes of Henry Kenneth Alfred Russell a film director never afraid to make films in his own inevitable way. As the BBC News web site said this morning :

He specialised in the interpretation of the great classical composers, extravaganzas that matched powerful images with a dramatic score. They were not for the faint-hearted. Audiences would be regaled with the sight of women cavorting naked in railway carriages, nude actors wresting in front of roaring fires and nuns indulging in orgies.

My commiserations to his lovely caring wife.

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