Ken Russell is finding it hard to
find commercial backers for his films so is retreating to
the occasional television documentary and acting roles to
support new ventures. The Rainbow was an attempt to
revive the success of Women in Love and while it almost
succeeds critically, it failed commercially. But typical
of Russell he then comes out with a minor classic, Whore.
The Rainbow, 1989
||The Rainbow is the prequel of DH
Lawrence's Women in Love. Whereas the novel covers many
generations living through the industrialisation of North
England, Russell focuses on the rites of passage of
Ursula from the child looking at the rainbow through to
her self-realisation. She calls herself "a bird
blown out of its own latitude".
As a teenager Ursula meets the
dashing soldier, who almost seduces her in a
church, slowly peeling off her glove, reminiscent
of Brando picking up the glove in On
But he cannot compete with the
forbidden eroticism of the swimming instructor. Ursula
asserts her freedom by becoming a teacher, in a
Dickensian school, but it is an unhappy place as
she is caught between leering masters and
Discovering she is pregnant her only
hope seems to be with the soldier, but she
discovers he has since married. Caught
in a fog she comes across horses which terrify
her and she flees, the flight across a river
causing a fever which almost kills her. She wakes
at home, with her parents looking after her, and
a rainbow outside her window encourages her to
decide her future.
Russell uses many of the same
people, actors and technicians, who had worked on Women
in Love: Glenda Jackson and Christopher Gable,
cinematographer Billy Williams and George Cole, gaffer. The film company, Vestron, went
bankrupt just before the release, so the film had no
(Lair of the White Worm) stars. Amanda Donohoe,
also from Lair, has a major role. Both are good.
Glenda Jackson is superb
acting as the mother. She plays the part so naturally you
would never guess she is a double Oscar winning actress.
Christopher Gable is equally convincing.
Molly Russell, Ken's
daughter and Rupert Russell, his son, play the children. Other regulars are David
Hemmings (Clouds of Glory), Judith Paris, Kenneth Colley
(Modeste in The Music Lovers). The music of Carl Davis
fits in well with film (for example the scene destroying
the cabbages), and Imogen Claire does the choreography. Photography was by
Billie Williams and Peter Davis was the editor. The book was adapted by
Ken and then wife Vivian Russell. The only weaknesses in
the script are the cursory references to
industrialisation, which should have been dropped, and
the confrontation with the horses where the symbolism is
of swimmers like tadpoles...
...and the lesbian lovers swim against the flow
schoolgirls wear sailor suits.
The painter and his
Sexuality (repressed, lesbian).
The rocking horse (A British Picture, Folk Songs) and real horses.
Hills and lakes.
Other films released in the same year include Born on the
Fourth of July, Black Rain and Driving Miss Daisy.