Ken Russell hot news
Last update 26 Jul 2023
The Music Lovers in Chichester, UK
The Music Lovers, Ken Russell's film about Tchaikovsky, will be shown at the Chichester Film Festival on 12 and 22 Aug 2023. The festival guide is pretty grudging "However rife with inaccuracies... Unless you are seeking the whole truth". Is it less accurate than Bernard Rose's The Beethoven Secret or Milos Foreman's Amadeus? I have quoted from Barbara von Meck's 1893 letter to show how closely the script follows her account of her relationship with Tchaikovsky.
Ken Russell Book launch and Symposium
A new book Refocus: the Films of
Ken Russell, part of ReFocus: The International Directors Series, edited
by Matthew Melia.
Glenda Jackson passes away
Sadly Glenda Jackson has passed away. More soon.
Ken Westbury, cinematographer, passes away
Ken Westbury, cinematographer on Ken Russell's The Debussy Film and
The Diary of a Nobody, and camera on The Debussy Film, has passed
Gothic on Blu-ray
The British Film Institute (BFI) will issue Gothic on Blu-ray on 11
Sept 2023. No details yet of extras.
Shoddy Wikipedia article on The Music Lovers
To give an example of biased criticism of Ken Russell see the Wikipedia entry. It quotes Time Out New York "vulgar, excessive, melodramatic and self-indulgent . . . " (Wikipedia, accessed 3 May 2023, click here).
The "..." cuts out the words "Tchaikovsky's
music is indeed all of these things, yet gloriously so, and the same
goes for Ken Russell at his freewheeling best"
This is shoddy misrepresentation of the review by TJ, of Tchaikovsky
and of Ken Russell.
Updates to The Mystery of Dr. Martinu
A major update to Ken Russell's television film on the Czech composer Martinu. "The Mystery of Dr. Martinu subtitled A Revelation by Ken Russell from 1993. This is Freud meets Buñuel´s Een Chien Andalou meets Hitchcock (Spellbound and Vertigo)".
For the update click here (bottom of page).
Clouds of Glory in London
The British Film Institute (BFI) in London will show the two Clouds of Glory films about the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge. They will be shown on 11 June 2023. More details soon.
For more on Clouds of Glory see here.
Murray Melvin passes away
Sadly Russell regular Murray Melvin has passed away. He was a loyal supporter of Ken's works and would attend screenings of his films.
Melvin started acting on stage and was part of Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop company at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in London. With the company his work included roles in Oh! What a Lovely War and Shelagh Delaney's A Taste of Honey.
His 104 film and television roles include Hot Snow (above), the first episode of The Avengers which would run for 161 episodes.
Melvin was iconic reviving his role in A Taste of Honey on film opposite Rita Tushingham, directed by Tony Richardson in 1961. The film "broke new ground with its adult themes, interracial kiss and its commitment to filming on the streets… And although the Dirk Bogarde-starring Victim (1961), released just a few months earlier, was also groundbreaking in its empathetic portrayal of homosexuality, Murray Melvin reported that when he met him at an awards ceremony, Bogarde said of Melvin’s performance as Geoff, 'You did more for the cause in one scene than the whole of bloody Victim put together'” (Chloe Walker, British Film Institute, 14 Sept 2021, click here).
His first role for Ken was 1964's The Diary of a Nobody (above). Further roles for Ken were in Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World, The Devils (first photo), The Boyfriend, Lizstomania, Clouds of Glory and Prisoner of Honor from 1991.
Melvin also worked with Kubrick in Barry Lyndon (above) and on 103 other films.
What I have only just discovered was that after The Devils, with music by Peter Maxwell Davies, Melvin directed two work by Maxwell Davies, Miss Donnithorne's Maggot and the opera The Martyrdom of St Magnus.
I was fortunate enough to meet and talk with Melvin, a friendly, open and intelligent person. Someone asked him how old he was- he said 29 and he said he would continue to say that until he decided to move to 30.
Updates to Tommy
Quotes from Tina Turner's autobiography added to Tommy, including
"I brought my own clothes to the set, just in case I didn't
like the costumes. Thank God! You should have seen how they
would have dressed me... The costume designer, Russell's wife Shirley,
said that I could wear them, although she came up with the Acid Queen's
clunky platform shoes. Ken Russell loved the way I looked"- click
Updates to The Music Lovers
Details of music added to The Music Lovers- click here.
Novelisation of Gothic
Details of the novelisation by Stephen Volk are added to the Gothic page. Click here.
Updates to the play Weill and Lenya
Updates about the play on Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya by Judith Paris and Ken Russell, directed by Russell. Click here.
Updates to The Rainbow
The page on The Rainbow has been extensively updated. Click here.
The Dance of the Seven Veils coming on Blu-ray
The copyright on Richard Strauss' music has expired, so there is no legal obstruction to presenting The Dance of the Seven Veils. The BFI are looking at issuing a Blu-ray. More details when known.
Thanks to Alex for the information.
Teddy Girls photos
21 of Ken's photos of Teddy Girls from 1955. Nicely printed. The cover is of Iris Thornton and the other Teddy Girls were Pat Wiles, Rose Price, Vera Harrison, Grace Living, Barbara Wood, Josie Buchan, Eileen Lewis, Rose Hendon, Mary Toovey and Jean Rayner.
"Teddy Girls brings together, for the first time in one publication, images taken by Ken Russell of this scarcely documented subculture. Taken around London in January 1955 and published in the Picture Post on June 4th that year, these photographs are a testament to the supremely stylish young women depicted. The style of the Teddy Girls, like that of the Teddy Boys, grew out of a trend for Edwardian influenced fashion in post-World War II London. However, these women should be seen as more than a feminine facsimile of their male counterparts and Russell’s images document the ingenuity and complexity of their sartorial choices. As well as recording the style of the Teddy Girls, these images also provide a snapshot of London in 1955, a city in flux, still rebuilding itself after the damage inflicted by war. An essay by the fashion historian, Mairi MacKenzie, considers the cultural history and context within which these women lived and the photos were taken".
Too late- you missed it
Mahler in Boulder, USA
The Colorado MahlerFest present Ken Russell's Mahler on 18 May 2023. It is shown at the Boedecker Theater, Dairy Arts Center, Boulder, USA.
"Cinematically, it is a work of art. “Visually the film is a feast,
notable for its dazzling and pointed use of color and movement.” It
earns the ire of many Mahlerites for being overly creative with the
facts. “Never one to dwell on facts or chronological limitations,
Russell set out to capture the spirit of his subject rather than any
Click here for the MahlerFest site.
Crimes of Passion in Massachusetts, USA
Crimes of Passion will be shown as part of the After Midnight film series in Coolidge Corner Theater in Massachusetts. It is screened on 26 May 2023 at one minute before midnight.
"In the early eighties British enfant terrible Ken Russell traveled to America and placed his unorthodox imprint on a pair of US movies. The first was Altered States, so out-there its screenwriter disowned it. The second was the equally crazy Crimes of Passion, starring Kathleen Turner (Body Heat, Serial Mom) at the height of her powers".
More details at the Coolidge website click
Tommy in Ohio, USA
Tommy will be shown at the Robins Theatre, Warren, Ohio on 11 March 2023.
"Tommy is a 1975 British satirical operetta fantasy drama film written and directed by Ken Russell and based upon The Who's 1969 rock opera album Tommy about a "psychosomatically deaf, mute, and blind" boy who becomes a pinball champion and religious leader. The film featured a star-studded ensemble cast, including the band members themselves, Ann-Margret, Oliver Reed, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Elton John, and Jack Nicholson."
The theatre website is here.
Tommy in Nashville, USA
Tommy will be shown at the Belcourt Theatre, Nashville, USA on 13 Feb 2023.
Women in Love in Culpeper, Virginia, USA
Women in Love in the cinema for free!! It is at the Packard Campus Theater on 11 Feb 2023.