L’Enfant Sauvage

The season of neglected 70s British cinema continued with SAVAGE MESSIAH — a rarely screened, emotionally devastating masterpiece from Ken Russell, who attended the screening, chortling loudly at his own dirty jokes throughout.

The Great Ken has been in frail health lately, and was only able to answer a few questions after the showing, but did so with aplomb. And I think he was happy to see an often-overlooked film from arguably his best period receive a rare cinema outing. “It’s about the creative process… and it’s a masterpiece,” he informed us.

Standing ovation, naturally.

Afterwards, I asked about Scott Antony, the film’s star, who gives a zestful, honest and endearing performance as the bohemian artist Andre Gaudier-Brzeska — he has apparently vanished. If anybody knows where he is, Ken wants to know!

Seeing as this is a movie about a creative partnership, it hit me where I live and I was very emotional. And seeing the artist behind the film, maybe for the last time, made it all the more so. This movie really ought to have a DVD release with all the trimmings, with a national search to find the missing star.

Viewed the film with Mike McCarthy, writer-producer-director of the satiric sci-fi burlesque superhero movie CIGARETTE GIRL, who was suitably awed by finding himself in the presence of Greatness (Ken’s, not mine) and at seeing Lindsay Kemp in a movie (doing the worst Scottish accent since James Doohan).

All Hail Ken Russell!

14 Responses to “L’Enfant Sauvage”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by dcairns, Douglas Noble. Douglas Noble said: RT @dcairns Ken Russell at Edinburgh! https://dcairns.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/lenfant-sauvage/ […]

  2. Lindsya Kemp has been more recently featured in Todd Haynes’ superb Velvet Goldmine. The Big stars of Savage Messiah are of course Scott Anthony (send out that APB, ASAP!) Dorothy Tutin and the great Helen Mirren who, characteristically, enters throwing bomb. No sooner does it explode than we see a starkers Helen descending a stairway.

    Dere Jarman was the production deisgner, and the digs for Gaudier-Brezka he puts on display are a lot like his own studio at the time. It’s quick, fast and intense — much like the films he himself would shortly produce.

    Saw the magnificent Helen the other evening in Love Ranch — the latest by hewr hubster Taylor Hackford. And the first time they’ve worked together since White Nights (on whcih they met.) A tad disorganized but much fun it tells of a Reno brothel her character (a composite of several real peope) runs with Joe Pesci ( more Pesci than ever). He takes in a broken-down boxer he hopes to convert into a star and the fun really starts.

    It’s clear from Savage Messiah there’s nothing Helen can’t do — and it’s great that after all these years she’s still doing it.

  3. Note the sneakers

  4. A friend of mine was once seated next to KR in an opera KR had directed. KR was apparently the only person in the audience who giggled rambunctiously throughout.

  5. Er, that should have read: “AT an opera KR had directed”.

  6. Kemp was also teaching mime to David Bowie (and later Kate Bush) early in Bowie’s career, which is how his name first came to my attention. Wikipedia says he first gained notice in 1963 at the Edinburgh Festival (not to be confused with the Edinburgh Film Festival).

  7. Apparently Scott Antony pitched up in Gloucester after his film career and set up a cultural centre or something. But now he’s vanished utterly, as far as the film world knows.

    I missed those sneakers in the movie. Maybe he had them on because he’s such a modern character, or maybe he needed them for all that jumping.

  8. Shirley Russell certainly didn’t make mistakes, except the deliberate kind!

  9. Howard Curtis Says:

    Lindsay Kemp also attempted a Scottish accent in The Wicker Man.

  10. That movie is so aberrant in its accents he barely stands out — except as an eccentric, unique performer. And yet we love the film in Scotland, in spite of its complete lack of dialect authenticity. Edward Woodward’s attempt at Scots is delightfully shaky.

  11. Several years ago a friend, waiting at Euston to meet a delayed Glasgow train, found herself standing next to Ken Russell who was collecting someone from the same train. They started a conversation (“typical railways eh” etc) which extended over the half hour wait. At no time did she indicate that she knew who he was or talk film. They got on like a house on fire.

    Eventually the train arrived and they said their farewells (“so good to meet you, great to spend the time like this”) at which point my friend parted with, “Oh, and by the way; Altered States – fantastic film.”

  12. What a cool friend!

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