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Topic Summary

Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: September 30, 2011, 06:56:55 PM »

You can watch Dear Censor on BBC iPlayer here

It will probably only be available for a week.  Worth watching!!!

Here is the British Board of Film Censorship on The Devils

and Women in Love

Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: September 29, 2011, 06:51:30 PM »

More on Ken and the censor, this time Women in Love, with Ken on his best behaviour:

When the film was submitted for certification this was the board's response: "While we are prepared to accept the wrestling scene, we would like you to remove if possible full-length shots in which genitals are clearly visible."

Ken Russell was willing to co-operate and collaborate: "I gather there is one full-length shot of Gerald which gives offence. The only way out of this... is to darken the shot and this I would be quite prepared to do." He finished his letter with a typical flourish: "Throwing myself on your good judgement, Ken Russell."

As the darkened prints received the go-ahead the mutual respect of censor and film-maker reflected the mood of the age. The censor wrote to the film-maker: "We all think it's a brilliant film and are taking this into account in our judgement of it."

This moved the film-maker to reply: "Dear John, can I say how grateful Ken and I are for your understanding help throughout these past months."
Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: September 28, 2011, 03:42:48 PM »

BBC 4 show a programme on film censorship.  Ken's letter to the censor on The Devils is "Dear John: I have cleaned up the sh*t from the altar and cut the orgy in half".  It is on 29 Sept 2011.
Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: September 04, 2011, 08:01:19 PM »

A well meaning but uninformed article on The Devils by Robert Nishimura.  The full article is here:

"Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971) was doomed from the moment it finished production.  The censors immediately gave it an X rating, even after Russell removed over thirty minutes of film"

It should have an X rating, which means adults only.  It is definitely not for children

"This year saw it’s first actual uncut “premiere” in London, which means a restored home-video release is inevitably in the works."

I fear not.

"The Devils was partly based on Aldous Huxley’s 1952 non-fiction novel The Devils of Loudun"

If it is non-fiction it is not a novel.

"What makes the film so compelling is Oliver Reed’s performance as the libidinous priest, Urbain Grandier.  Russell always recognized Reed’s potential as an actor, and there weren’t too many directors capable of restraining Reed’s self-destructive tendencies long enough to get a great (or sober) performance out of him"

I agree Reed was great, but if you read a biography you find he was professional on set.  Remember he was paid a million for Gladiator.

"Just one year earlier the Academy was practically throwing Oscars at Russell for showing Reed and Alan Bates wrestle in the nude in Women in Love"

Glenda Jackson got the Oscar.  There was no other Oscar for the film and none for Ken.
Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: May 08, 2011, 09:31:30 PM »

Guardian readers on The Devils in the Barbican.

"...expressing unease about interviewing him within a fortnight of his stroke. However, Russell turned up to do the interview: Stuart Jeffries did not doorstep the director."

"...We should be piling every honour we can on to Ken Russell while he's still with us. It will be too late when he's gone."

"Russell, as is his wont, talked about whatever he fancied. And didn't talk about what he didn't fancy. But the ostensible purpose of the piece was to celebrate his 1971 film The Devils. "I saw The Devils in the ABC in West Croydon and remember the sense of disturbance and unease in the audience, which I have not experienced with any other film... It is remarkable how rapidly critical opinion of The Devils has gone from it being a masterpiece to rubbish and back again."

"... I lived in Keswick when Russell lived in the Lake District. He wrote a letter to the Keswick Reminder saying that the town's dentists were into wife-swapping. I remember the outrage with great fondness. A true original."

Posted by: richmond74
« on: May 04, 2011, 08:11:09 PM »

The 'pantomime' is the sequence featured over the end-credits of the Hell on Earth documentary and of which you see fleeting elements in the final film. It's the troupe of players performing on the stage erected alongside the stake in the square, offering some form of bawdy commentary on Jeanne's possession. Not essential to the story, but I suppose a blackly comic adjunct to the proceedings. I guess it fitted in prior to the camera pulling back to reveal Grandier crawling to the stake.
Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: May 03, 2011, 11:19:19 PM »

I seem to remember in Mark Kermode's film Hell on Earth that they showed the further Redgrave scenes (I haven't checked though, maybe I am imagining this).  But I don't mind if they are left out- but kept as extras on a DVD- as I think the film as shown is probably as good as it will be.  What was the pantomime, I can't remember this?

It was great seeing the film on the big screen.
Posted by: richmond74
« on: May 03, 2011, 04:13:06 PM »

Like a few of you (I guess), I attended Sunday’s screening at The Barbican. As with the previous NFT outing a few years ago, it was great to see the film on the big screen and with an appreciative audience too (how marvellous if this was your first encounter with the film!), although rather sad to see Ken in a frail state of health.

Being a ‘completist’, I'm slightly disappointed that all the found footage wasn't re-interpolated into the film - especially the pantomime - although I suppose it raises questions about what constitutes a director's cut and without a soundtrack rather hard to re-insert.

I wonder if the fabled cans of film also had the trims of the minor cuts made to scenes of torture and violence e.g. the messy latter stages of Sister Jeanne’s exorcism, greater sight of Grandier’s crushed legs, etc. or whether these fleeting seconds of extra detail are truly lost. Does anyone know?
Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: May 01, 2011, 06:01:06 PM »

Thinking on the interview, I find it quite sad.  Ken is obviously tired and needs peace and rest- should the interview have gone ahead?.  I'm going to see The Devils shortly, possible with Ken there.  If he turns up I hope he is feeling better.  If he stays away I am glad he was being sensible.
Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: May 01, 2011, 12:21:27 AM »

An interview of Ken by Stuart Jeffries in, 28 April 2011

Ken Russell is leaning on his stick outside the Pebble Beach restaurant in Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire, while his fourth wife parks the car. "Thanks for recognising me," he says as I shake his hand. It would be hard not to. Russell is wearing open-toed sandals, red trousers pulled up so far over his waist they're bearing down on his nipples and stripy shirt, while his big florid face is topped by a rage of grey hair.

But today Russell, now 84, has the air of a last-act Lear, or Tigger unbounced. Two weeks ago he suffered a stroke; this is only his second outing from the New Forest hospital where he's been recuperating. ...

...After Russell orders a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, I ask what he remembers about making The Devils 40 years ago. "Nothing," he replies. "I have short-term memory loss." "You don't have long-term memory loss," says Tribble sensibly. Surely, I suggest, you must remember that after the Evening Standard's Alexander Walker called The Devils "monstrously indecent", you hit him with a rolled-up copy of his newspaper? "I wish it had been an iron bar," he says.

...You directed another film the same year, I prompted him. The Boy Friend... Russell waves away the question and orders fish and chips.

Perhaps more Devils-related questions will get more in the way of response....

Why portray the king as a cross-dressing homosexual who shoots Protestants dressed as birds in his royal park for fun? "Because that's exactly as I saw him," says Russell.

...Russell mentions he was inspired by one particular line in Huxley's book. "The exorcism of sister Jeanne," wrote Huxley, "was equivalent to rape in a public lavatory." Hence the film's vision of Loudon as a pristine, white-stone city and the convent as clad in white tiles (Derek Jarman designed the sets). Russell recalls the film's final shot: "The girl goes up the hill of broken bricks." The girl (Grandier's recently widowed wife) walks over Loudun's ruins into a landscape in which the only objects are posts topped by carriage wheels, on which Protestant corpses turn in the wind. "Polanski is said to have been inspired by that shot for the last scene of The Pianist," Tribble says.

Russell then suggests The Devils is a religious film that takes inspiration from his own Catholic faith. "It's about the degradation of religious principles," he says. "And about a sinner who becomes a saint."

... Russell is exhausted and can only just be persuaded to pose for photos. We stand on the terrace, with its view of yachts on a silver sea and the Isle of Wight behind. This is Hampshire on Easter Saturday, but it looks like festival-time Cannes. Tribble drapes her husband in the Aleister Crowley robe. Russell leans on his cane, like a theosophical Fred Astaire.

We say our farewells. I tell Russell I hope he's well enough to attend the screening of The Devils. "I don't know what he's talking about," he says to Tribble. She goes off to get the car to drive him back to hospital. Did he really not understand or was he just being cantankerous? Let's hope the latter. Better Ken Russell the old devil than anything less.

The full interview is here
Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: April 12, 2011, 09:23:03 PM »

Yes it is sold out.  I have my tickets though!!
Posted by: BoyScoutKevin
« on: April 11, 2011, 09:50:52 PM »

Wow.  I wish I could be there.  A big crowd at the event may persuade the executives at Warner Bros to release a DVD.  There is no better time to release a film that deals with the dangers of combining church and state.

"A big crowd" Would that be like all the tickets to the showing  being sold? Whether it is because it'll be shown uncut, or because Ken will be there, or for both reasons, or for some other reason, there are no more tickets to be had for the showing, or so I have heard.
Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: April 08, 2011, 10:08:49 PM »

Ken will be there as well.
Posted by: Rosebud
« on: April 08, 2011, 04:18:02 AM »

Wow.  I wish I could be there.  A big crowd at the event may persuade the executives at Warner Bros to release a DVD.  There is no better time to release a film that deals with the dangers of combining church and state.
Posted by: Iain Fisher
« on: April 02, 2011, 03:19:49 PM »

Thanks for the information.   I'll be there.

There is lots of good Ken news right now!!!