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Ken Russell art life dreams



Art, Life, Dreams
Loren Hall, an artist, writes about the influence Ken Russell had on him.

There are only three film makers in the history of film that inspire me to obtain every single work that they ever created by any means necessary; Orson Welles, David Lynch, and Ken Russell.

Orson Welles Daviud Lynch Ken Russell

 ‘Citizen Kane’ was Orson Welles’ baby. That film was HIM, more than any other film he directed. As an artist, I feel that the most intriguing, most fascinating subject matter in the world can fall flat, if it is not portrayed in an intriguing, beautiful way. I love that film, because it bridged the ‘gap’ between art and life in a way that I’d never seen. Welles had complete creative control over the production of it, and it shows from start to finish. You can quite literally take ANY random frame from it, and the composition will be impeccable.

Citizen Kane Citizen Kane Citizen Kane

And if Orson Welles was the bridge between art and life, then David Lynch is the bridge between art, life, and dreams. His work is simply paranoid, obsessive-compulsive film making at it’s dizzying best.

Un Chien Andalou Although it’s a shame that Salvador Dali stopped working on films so much after ‘L’Age de Or’ and ‘Un Chien Andalou’, I feel that David Lynch helped to carry on Dali’s spirit in his films, in a way that was still all his own. Blue Velvet

 And what about Ken Russell? Well, I feel that his work is all of that and more; a bridge between art, life, dreams...and ME! Although Ken Russell’s films are about a wide variety of subjects, I feel that they are mostly about people; brilliant, creative, eccentric, largely misunderstood people, presented in a way that is not only beautiful and surreal, but intensely intimate, personal, and non-judgmental. It is apparent to me that Ken Russell is someone who truly, dearly loves people. You can see it in the way he captures all of the subtle nuances that make people fascinating and lovely (even when they’re behaving in a MOST unattractive manner), and makes repeated viewing of his films not only enjoyable, but increasingly rewarding. I don’t know how many times I’ve been watching one of his films for the umpteenth time and said something like; ‘I never noticed how she smirked at him back there in the background when he said that!!’ This, of course, is pure magic, and is sadly lacking in most American films these days, which seem to be geared toward viewers who are hungry for the obvious...for the blatant. These same viewers would probably dismiss the scores of UK films that DO have this subtle quality, such as ‘Sunday, Bloody Sunday’ and ‘prick up your ears’ (which star 2 ‘Russell actresses’, Glenda Jackson and Vanessa Redgrave, respectively) as ‘quaint little English movies’. It makes me sad that so many people miss the point of these films, and particularly of Ken Russell’s films, but honestly, it makes me like them even more. When I watch a Ken Russell film, I feel like it was made for me (and my freaky friends, of course)!

And speaking of my friends, in spite of all of our differences, one of the main things that binds us together is music. Music has always been very important to me, and apparently to Ken as well. It seems that Ken has ALWAYS been in touch with what is new and vital not just in music, but also in the various trappings that music promotes in culture. From the longhairs in 'The Devils' to 'Tommy' to 'Salome's Last Dance', which starred Siouxsie Sioux as Queen Herodias, and Daniel Ash as John the Babtist...HA HA, just kidding, but you see what I mean. Is it just a coincidence? I think not!

Another close personal connection that I feel with Ken's films is the interest in the ancient and mysterious. In so many Ken Russell films, the far distant past is used as a device, to add mystery and intensity to the story. This is seen in 'The Devils' in the form of 'flashbacks' to the crucifixion, in ' Salome's Last Dance' in nearly the entire film, in 'Lair of the White Worm' as scenes of the crucifixion...

Altered States ...again, and in 'Altered States', the main character's regressions take him past the 'ancient', to the downright primordial, and both 'Lair of the White Worm' and 'Gothic' are centered around an ancient skull. The 'ancient times' motif is popular in films, largely because of religious implications. Gothic

The same is true for Ken Russell's films, only his treatment of the subject matter is daringly, and refreshingly, irreverent. He seems to love to mix the very old with the not-so-old with the modern in a way that is fascinating to me. I think that he does this not to remind us that there's 'nothing new under the sun', but to remind us that the truly beautiful and brilliant spark of creativity is NOT held by the constraints of time, and in doing so, links people not only to each other, but to those who have come long before. That concept is very comforting to me.

In my own artwork, there have been many fundamental steps in the creative process, and one of the most important of these was the idea that it is counterproductive to force or second guess the creative impulse; in order to be in harmony with it, you must surrender to it (almost) completely. Ken Russell seems to have the same attitude, for when he places people (actors) in his painstakingly rendered scenarios, he leaves them alone and just lets the magic happen. This, to me, is further evidence that he is an artist that just happens to make films, rather than the other way around. When I think of Ken Russell now, I see him not only as a brilliant, sensitive artist, but as a gentle, noble, kindred spirit. I have tried in vain to find another film maker with whom I share so much affinity, and that’s a very valuable thing when you feel so isolated and alienated most of the time, as I do, and as do so many other people. His films are a warm blanket that helps remind us that we're not alone in this world, and that’s not just valuable, it’s priceless.

Loren Hall

Loren Hall

Loren Hall

Loren Hall

Loren Hall

Loren Hall is a 31 year-old artist currently living in north Georgia.
Click here to see more of his works

Loren Hall



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