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looking for a budget 1


Ken Russell made a series of very low budget films. They demonstrate the depth of his imagery and vision, and also the desperation of making money by sensation. At times the best and the worst are side by side, as in Gothic. This period includes a short film, Aria, which is a classic.



Gothic, 1986

  Ken Russell was attracted to the Shelley and Byron story of incest and debauchery. It starts with tourists paying to look through telescopes to the Byron residence across the water. Just as Russell did with Liszt, Shelley and Byron are treated as pop stars with adoring groupies.

Ken Russell Gothic with Natasha at the window

Under the effect of drugs, nightmares start to take over as each character searches for an illusory gratification. Natasha however does not need drugs to confront her nightmares.

The poster was banned in London, despite being based on a classical painting.

Ken Russell The dream in GothicKen Russell The arrival in Gothic Ken Russell Fire in Gothic

The film is enjoyable and the first half is vintage Russell but it does deteriorate a bit towards the end.  Ken Russell says "I'd fallen into the trap which has been the undoing of many a... pop-video director- punchy, roller-coaster cutting, short sequences and non-stop action... well nigh unbearable over a hundred minutes or so".

Ken Russell Gothic Gabriel Byrne as Lord Byron and Julian Sands as Percy Bysshe Shelley. Natasha Richardson, daughter of The Devil's Vanessa Redgrave, plays Mary Shelley. Ken Russell Gothic with Mary Shelley, hair wild

Music by Thomas Dolby (not Russell's choice).

best image The girl sleeping as the shadow moves by.
The fish drowning in a bowl     Ken Russell Gothic fish in a bowl


best scene The girl in the room surrounded by the doors.
themes The moving doll sequence is very similar to Fellini in Casanova.

The dead baby in the water.

The knight in armour is similar to the Tina Turner hypodermic knight in Tommy.

Ken Russell Gothic on the rooftops The scene on the roof in the lightning is similar to Roger Daltry on the roof in Tommy. Ken Russell Tommy on the rooftops
Ken Russell Gothic and leeches Snakes on skulls, phallic symbols, leeches abound. Left from Gothic, right from Tommy. Ken Russell Tommy and snakes in a skull
films Other films released in the same year include Children of a Lesser God, Aliens and Platoon.



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