Gorsewood takes its name from the gorse bushes round Ken Russell's
house. He wants full control over his films, rather than having story and actors
imposed on him as on films such as Prisoners of Honor, Mindbender and Dogboys,
so is now filming from his own house.
Russell compares it to underground cinema, working with no
budget and using family, friends and neighbours and remembers the
freedom and fun he had at the beginning of his career with Amelia and
ion's Mouth from 2000 is "inspired by The rev. H.
Davidson, the Rector of Stiffkey a.k.a. The Prostitutes Padre". A true
story of a rector in the 1930´s who helped prostitutes but was defrocked
for also helping himself to prostitutes. He preached from a barrel and
ended up preaching to lions (Daniel and the lion) and being savaged to
When no actor seemed suitable for the role of the vicar, Russell realised the
story-line was actually better without the role. So the film
became a Citizen Kane like story of a journalist, played by Diana
Laurie, visiting places and people, to reveal the truth behind the
This results in a number of set pieces,
some of them beautiful- Diana Laurie in the church lit by hundreds of
candles, the erotic Chinese dance, and the funeral with the women (the
vocal group The Mediaeval Babes) dancing round the giant statue of a giant
penis to the music I Want to be Happy
And throughout there are
lions- toys, paintings, lion-costumes, a tin of Lions Syrup.
Lion's Mouth is a short 25 minute film. It was a test by Ken
Russell to see if the camcorder could produce film of the quality he
wanted. "I suppose it was that I had total control over it,
because I haven’t really had that since my amateur days when I made
Amelia and the Angel. One didn’t have to ask anyone anything, you know
very often in feature films they give you a head roll in making the film
then they take it away from you and cut it to ribbons afterwards so you
The initial scenes are weaker- it is not clear what the
meaning of the barrel is, and it is not clear the lips that appear full
screen are actually someone in the barrel. And the sound is at times
crudely dubbed. I suspect the film was shot chronologically, as it
improves consistently. Russell at times uses the lack of resources
to his advantage. The mortuary scene was filmed inside Ken's house and
Diana Laurie pointed out that there was a row of CDs in the background.
Russell told her it was her job to ensure no-one noticed the CDs. And in
another scene the lion (a girl in a lion costume) falls down but the
actors recover so well it was worth keeping.
Diana Laurie says:
So we had
meetings then arranged for me to go down there and discuss the
script and ideas. By this time I had looked at some costumes
from the BBC and took some pictures. I showed him the pictures
and he said he hated them, absolutely hated them. He wanted me
to look more like I look in real life, which was great for me as
it helped me to develop the character. She was quite eccentric
and she would have found clothes in a thrift shop, she was
fashion conscious but with her own style. That was great because
I like interpreting. So what you see are my own clothes and he
was delighted and really happy with that...
Russell says the experiment convinced him the Camcorder was
suitable for his next major project, The Fall of the Louse of Usher. The
only failing was the quality of the sound, and Ken has since found a
solution for that.
Despite limited resources, the imagery is at times good.
The original title of the film was Leomania.
Diana Laurie plays Josephine Heatherington, a
journalist on the Skegness Journal with ambitions on Fleet Street.
She is good in the role, walking imperially with her open umbrella
always beside her. Russell emphasises the distance of the
journalist by having interviews cut from people to people, without
any shots of interviewer and interviewee together.
Ken's children Victoria Russell and Alex Alien along
with Barry Lowe (left, playing the gardener in the film) are
credited as producers.
Russell plays Ken the
Clown and is also credited with writing, photography, editing,
production and direction.
The Mediaeval Babes are in the final funeral sequence.
Marie Finley and Emma Millions, who worked with Ken on The Fall of
the Louse of Usher, act in the film. Other players are
friends, family and neighbours.
The church lit with natural light.
The statues from the cemetery used to represent the
ghosts of dead prostitutes. Fellini painted the eyes of his
statues in Clowns, here Russell adds jewelry.
The images obviously stick in Ken's head- the photo above is
from his wife Vivien's Dream Gardens from 1989.
The Limehouse Blues erotic Chinese dance.
The final scene of Diana Laurie walking away
with angels wings is a reference to Amelia and the Angel.
There is a play within the film (Androcoles
and the Lion).
The Citizen Kane type journalism was also used in Valentino.
The funeral scene with the mourners
emerging from the darkness, then dancing around the giant phallus
For The Making of Lion´s Mouth
For an interview with Diana Laurie