Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Birthday, Ken Russell!

And a pause to honor the late Ken Russell on his birthday.

His films exploded across a British cinema grounded mainly in kitchen sink realism. Though he began as a documentary filmmaker he quickly tired of the talking-heads-and-archival-photographs demanded by his employers, and his reenactments quickly escalated to fantastic realms. But as willfully perverse as his take on his subjects often was, he was always grounded in a solid understanding of his subjects, bringing a classicist's eye to their often bizarre inner worlds.

Salome's Last Dance is this writer's favorite. Though awash in period decadence (and capturing, cinematically, an encyclopedia of kink), it serves the Oscar Wilde text beautifully and brings his language to life. Few cinematic adaptations of theatrical work are quite this faithful to their original texts.

Russell's films have only been sporadically available, but in recent years appear to have exploded online - it's pleasing how many of them are available across a variety of platforms. They remain as fresh and outrageous (and sometimes infuriating) as the day they were made, and are the perfect destination for those seeking something truly different.

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