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Ken Russell budget films


Ken Russell Aria  Ken Russell Aria

"[Russell's] episode is really something quite special… The sequence gives Russell’s imagination full reign and showcases his exceptional lighting, design and compositional skills in an uplifting parable about the triumph of life over death"  (Andrew Pragasam in The Spinning Image, click here)

Aria from 1987 is a compilation film.  A number of directors were each given 50,000 pounds to make a short film based on an opera.  Ken Russell chose an excerpt Nessun Dorma from Turandot.

Ken Russell Aria

Linzi Drew, the star, says "Nessun Dorma... from Turandot translates as ´None Shall Sleep´, and Ken's idea was to portray an accident victim who is comatose... His inspiration came from losing someone close to him in a car crash".

Ken Russell Aria

Ken Russell Aria

Ken Russell Aria

Ken Russell Aria  Ken Russell Aria

The film is one of Russell's best and is highly recommended.

Ken Russell Aria 

Ken's segment was filmed in a studio in Battersea.

Other directors at their peak in the Aria films include Altman and Jean Luc Goddard. Disappointing are Roeg and especially Derek Jarman.  According to imdb.com Orson Welles and Frederico Fellini were planned to take part but withdrew for health reasons, and Woody Allen had a scheduling conflict so also pulled out.

I like the comment from Nina in a blog comment "godard, altman and jarman in one movie doesn’t sound like something that should work and tbh it doesn’t rlly but the music is pretty and it makes me wanna watch more ken russell so who cares"  (Letterboxd, 2 Mar 2018, click here)

All images from the DVD of the film.

Ken Russell filming Aria

Ken with one of the props from the film.



Ken Russell Aria

Linzi Drew stars. She has appeared in minor roles in Russell's Lair and Salome and the television ABC of British Music. The other actors are Andreas Wisniewski, Kwabena Manso, Bella Enahoro, Bunty Mathias and Angela Walker, who also had a minor role in Salome.

The editor is Russell regular Michael Bradsell and Director of Photography was Gabriel Beristain.  Art direction was by another Russell regular Paul Dufficey.

The music is Nessun Dorma (None Shall Sleep) from Puccini's Turandot, sung by Jussi Bjoerling, with the Rome Opera House Orchestra conducted by Erich Leinsdorf.


Best Image

Ken Russell Aria

Ken Russell Aria

The dummy parts swaying.

Ken Russell Poets London Betjeman

Compare with an image from Russell's Poet's London from 1956.


Best Scene

Ken Russell Aria

Ken Russell Aria

The servants carefully placing rubies on the woman.



Fritz Lang Metropoli   Ken Russell Aria

The film pays homage to Fritz Lang's Metropolis (left).

Tommy crash  Metropolis crash

The burning car is similar to the car in the war scene in Tommy (left), and again to Metropolis (right).

Ken Russell Tommy and Monroe cross   Ken Russell Aria cross

The wand is similar to the cross in Tommy (left), and the same image as well as the same clouds appear in Mefistofoles.



Other films released in the same year include Wall Street. Good Morning Vietnam, Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket

Wall Street  Good Morning Vietnam  Full Metal Jacket  La Bamba


More films

Click title for film French Dressing * Billion Dollar Brain * Women in Love * The Music Lovers* The Devils * The Boy Friend * Savage Messiah * Mahler * Tommy * Lisztomania * Valentino * Altered States * Crimes of Passion * Gothic * Aria * The Lair of the White Worm * Salome's Last Dance * The Rainbow * Whore


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