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an inconsistent but obvious genius and one of the few real artists that southampton can be proud to have produced. very sad, but 84 years is a pretty good run.
in honour of him :(
possibly at the first screening of Gothic. Ken got into a massive argument with the guy interviewing him and fell off his chair. Alcohol may have been involved. Top bloke.
Lovely little interview with Scorsese on Russell's influence here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/newsnight/9650301.stm
I was once in Toronto for the Toronto film festival, and Ken Russell was there. One of his films was premiering at the festival, can't remember which one, but Ken was there to introduce the film and do a bit of Q&A with the audience afterwards.
I had to do something else that evening, so I missed seeing Ken, but the next day I was walking through the city with my friend (who did see Ken) and asking her what it had been like.
She delivered this lengthy, impassioned spiel about how Ken Russell was just the loveliest little old man, how witty he was, and how graciously he'd fielded everyone's stupid questions - but the thing she liked about him best, she said, was that while everyone else was all dressed to the nines for the festival, Ken was sitting there on stage in a pair of baggy corduroy trousers and a ghastly old red cardigan, like he'd been sitting at home in front of the telly.
All this was said while we were standing at a set of pedestrian lights, waiting to cross. Just as she uttered the words "ghastly old red cardigan", I noticed that standing in front of us, and turning his head slightly so as to catch every word, was a little old man with snowy white hair and wearing a ghastly old red cardigan.
I nudged my friend to get her to shut up, just as Ken Russell turned around, gave us a big beaming smile, looked down at his cardigan, tugged ruefully at a sleeve, said "It is ghastly, but I'm afraid I'm very attached to it", smiled again, made us a little bow and crossed the road.
I mean it's not that sad because he was old and he had a great career (from what I've heard).
Only seen his first mini film (about a girl trying to find angel wings) and Women in love, which I both enjoyed. I need to see more of his work, but I'm glad there was a filmmaker like him who was actually trying to do different things with British cinema-like Roeg, Greenaway, Jarman,etc.
But at the same time, I really liked the fact that there was someone out there pursuing a successful career making batshit-crazy movies with absolutely no compromises to commercial appeal or cinematic fashion, and annoying the fuck out of poncey film critics.
He'll be missed.