Academy Award nominated filmmaker Ken Russell died in his sleep on November 27th. He was 84 years old.
After the death of an artist, there is often a renewed interest in his or her work. That describes my situation with Ken Russell. I’ve only seen three of his movies — Altered States, Tommy, and Gothic (the tally’s four if you count his short in Aria) — and his passing makes me feel like I should have explored more of his filmography by now. Some friends are going to sit me down for a screening of Lair of the White Worm some time soon, and I’m looking forward to seeing his signature film Women in Love. (Read Pauline Kael’s review for that a few weeks ago, because sometimes a guy reads Deeper Into Movies for fun.)
The AV Club notes in their fine Ken Russell mini-retrospective that his most controversial film, The Devils, will finally be released uncut in March of next year. That movie includes “forced enemas, an orgy of naked nuns raping a Jesus statue, [Vanessa] Redgrave masturbating with a charred leg bone.” Considering his style and audacity, we’ve lost a true original, and I’m not being facetious.
After the jump, a scene from Altered States and a scene from Tommy.[Via The Guardian, AV Club]
Altered States (1980)