Nothing Is Beyond Our Ken

Ken Russell, muffintop messiah.

Working on a big Ken Russell gallery for you all. But meanwhile, here’s a big Ken Russell article, for The Chiseler. Ken’s career arc, from home movies to TV to British movies Hollywood back to British movies back to TV back to home movies has such an elegant shape to it that it’s a wonder no major critical study exists, that I’m aware of, tackling the whole thing.

So here it is in miniature.

5 Responses to “Nothing Is Beyond Our Ken”

  1. David Ehrenstein Says:

    A very nice general overview. I adored “Women in Love” (aka. “Larry Kramer’s Pajama Party”) but really took serious notice of Ken when his BBC films started to turn up on the U.S. tube. “Dante’s Inferno” and “Isadora — The Biggest Dancer in The World” were marvelous. Then on the Big Screen came “Ken Russell’s Film on Tchaikovsky and The Music Lovers” (its full and proper title) which grabbed me from the start with that great winter carnival opening in which everyone is introduced. Most fascinating thing about it otherwise is the fact that Richard Chamberlain was still in the closet off-screen while on-screen he was lustily shagging Christopher Gable. Then came Ken’s absolute masterpiece “The Devils” — one of the best films about politics ever made demonstrating once and for all why Church and State MUST remain separate. The last time I saw it on the big screen was as a double feature with “Performance” (a perfect pairing) Adore “The Boyfriend” more for its performers than even its visual imaginativeness. Twiggy and Tommy Tune are a delight and the “You’re Never Too Late To Fall in Love” was performed as a bath-chair ballet as the great Max Adrian was dying and felt he didn’t want to spoil the take should he drop off mid-shot. Georgina Hale is marvelous here too but really shines in “Mahler” She deserved a much bigger career. Of his later U.S. films they’re a tatty scattered bunch. “Crimes of Passion” I tame stuff next to the great performance John Waters got out of Kathleen Turner in “Serial Mom” and “Whore is stultifying. Must catch up with his backyard movies ike “The Fall of the Louse of Usher.”

  2. Beautiful overview. I always (wrongly) thought of VALENTINO has the beginning of his American period, because it’s so damn American.

    It’s interesting how during he was one of the great British directors, and yet during his 2 British periods, Britain became the world: America, Russia, Europe, all filmed in Pinewood & the Malvern Hills.

    I’ll just add I would kill to see the real finale to his first British period & his first ouroboros: 1979’s TV films “Clouds of Glory” with Davids Warner & Hemmings as Wordsworth & Coleridge.

    According to his great last wife, someone is holding back the rights, for reasons nebulous. But you can still see the last 10 minutes on youtube

  3. Up there with Hitchcock and Lean as one of the great British directors!!

  4. Though I think The Devils is his masterpiece, my personal favorite is probably Lisztomania. Kept hoping it might get a nice Blu-ray release in the wake of the Avengers movie, considering that Thor (and the Marvel comics version at that) makes a memorable appearance!

  5. Lisztomania is maybe the maddest, and incredibly good-looking. That whole 70s run is phenomenal.

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