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Ken Russell hot news

Last update 14 Mar 2022.


Wllliam Hurt passes away

William Hurt in Ken Russell Altered States

William Hurt has sadly passed away.

After a couple of television roles his career started with Ken Russell's Altered States in 1980. Not a bad place to start.

He appeared in major mainstream films such as Spielberg’s AI, but he also often undertook quirky films different from the mainstream, such as Children of a Lesser God (he won an Oscar for this), Kiss of the Spider Woman and M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village.

My favourite, the little known Accidental Tourist.



Digitally Restored Tommy in Leederville, Australia

Ann-Margret in Ken Russell Tommy

The 4K digitally restored version of Tommy will be shown at the Luna Outdoor Cinema in Leederville, Australia on 18 March 2022.  Details are on the Luna website click here.



Ken Russell t shirt

A t shirt illustrated by Paul Cemmick.  Details are on Pinterest click here.


Tommy in Berlin

Eric Clapton in Ken Russell film of The Who Tommy

Tommy is shown as part of Berlinale 2022 on 16 and 20 Feb 2022.  Click here for the Berlinale website.



Flipping the script on Britishness

London by Ken Russell, 1954

Found in an overlooked photo archive "images of Windrush arrivals and jazz club romances challenge the traditional narrative about what it means to be British".  Interesting photos including "London by Ken Russell, 1954... street scenes of the 1950s from the future film-maker’s series Portobello Road – Everyday Life. Here, a young black boy plays in one of the bombed out ‘playgrounds’ much loved by kids at the time. He is wearing a kind of superhero eye mask on his forehead, from an earlier game".

From the Guardian 4 Jan 2022 click here.



Oliver Reed turned down for a blue plaque

Oliver Reed in The Devils

Christopher Hastings writing in the Mail on Sunday newspaper reports that Oliver Reed has been turned down for a blue plaque because " his legacy in the field of acting was not sufficiently strong". Blue plaques are meant to celebrate notable figures and the places they lived and worked.

The article says “A committee at the charity – which has been accused of political correctness – rejected a bid to honour the hell-raising star of films including Oliver!, Women In Love and Gladiator, despite many considering him a towering figure in British cinema.”

Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam is quoted as saying “… this is crazy. Ollie was a monument to everything that was wonderful at that time in England. I think this decision proves our culture is being invaded by close-minded idealogues with no idea of either history or uniqueness.’

The article by Christopher Hastings is in the Mail on Sunday, 5 Dec 2021 is on the Mail website here

People who were awarded a blue plaque this year include Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets and Hilton Valentine, guitarist of The Animals.

The Music Lovers on The Criterion Channel

The Music Lovers

The Criterion Channel have a season of Glenda Jackson films, one of which is The Music Lovers.  Not sure which regions it covers or dates- for non-members there is limited information.  Other Glenda films included are The Maids and Sunday Bloody Sunday both of which are recommended.

The Criterion blurb on The Music Lovers has the usual shoddy clichés- "gloriously bonkers spectacle of madness".



Bernard Haitink, Russell's conductor of Mahler, dies

Bernard Haitink from Mahler by Ken Russell

The music on Ken's Mahler was conducted by Bernard Haitink, shown above from the credits of Mahler.  I saw Haitink conduct many times and he was one of the great conductors.  He was with the Dutch Concertgebouworkest for 65 (!) years, his first concert in 1939 (from NRC.NL 22 Oct 2021).  He was also conductor of the London Philharmonic from 1967- 1979 and the Royal Opera House London from 1987-2002.  He died on 21 Oct 2021 aged 92.  He will be missed and I will be playing all my Haitink CDs to remember him.


Gretchen Felker-Martin podcast on Ken Russell's The Devils

The Losers' Club: A Stephen King Podcast presents a 30 minute discussion with Gretchen Felker-Martin on The Devils "A story about human fragility and the beauty of human frailty".  Good to hear people genuinely appreciating the film- like an idiosyncratic discussion between friends.

The link is on atcast click here.



The Devils and Hell on Earth on-line

Ken Russell The Devils

Ken Russell The Devils


You can watch The Devils as well as Mark Kermode's documentary Hell on Earth plus Q&A with Ken etc. The link is on the Internet Archive is here.

As well as the film the extras are:

  •  Hell on Earth - A documentary exploring the film's production and controversial history. (2002, 48 mins)

  • Onstage Q&A with Ken Russell - The director in conversation with Mark Kermode at the NFT in 2004. (2012, 13 mins

  • Director of Devils - A documentary featuring candid Ken Russell interviews and unique footage of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies recording his score. (1971, 22 min)

  • On-set footage - 8mm footage of the set with commentary by Michael Bradsell. (2012, 8 mins)

  • Deleted Scene: The Rape of Christ - The infamous orgy scene scene never officially released. (1971, 2 mins)

  • Deleted Scene: Grandier's Bone - In this often cut scene, Sister Jeanne appears to masturbate with the charred bone of Grandier, given to her by Laubardemont. (1971, 1 min)

  • Trailers - Original UK and US theatrical trailers for The Devils. (1971, 5 mins)

  • James Ferman - The former secretary of the BBFC discusses censorship of 'The Devils'. (3 mins)

  • UK Censors - A short excerpt on the campaign to censor 'The Devils' in the UK. (1 min)

  • Year of Censorship - Interviews with film critic Alexander Walker, Ken Russell, and BBFC examiner Ken Penry on the controversies of 'The Devils'. (5 mins)



Dick Bush, Cinematographer

Dick Bush and Ken Russell on Isadora

An update on one of Ken's cinematographers.

"When I was asked to do a Ken Russell film I was only an acting cameraman. I’d never been taught lighting, I taught myself really by watching other films, and went ahead to work with this terrifying creature as Ken was in those days. He would get through sound crews and camera crews in seconds. And I realised Ken was being really helpful. We’d go off to locations or work in the studio and I would light the set and he would come up and quietly say “Dick, do you really need that lamp on there”, and I’d switch it off and realise the set looked better".

The link is here .

Site updates - Savage Messiah

A major update of Savage Messiah here .

Dancer in Savage Messiah Ken Russell

Ken Russell Savage Messiah


Site updates - The Boyfriend

A major update of The Boyfriend here .

Ken Russell The Boyfriend 

Ken Russell The Boyfriend

Ken Russell: Portrait of a Maverick

Portrair of a Maverick 

Ken Russell Portrait of a Maverick is a documentary by Chris Wade. The film gives an overview of Ken’s childhood and career, and has interviews with Xavier Russell (Ken’s son who edited some of Ken’s films), Judith Paris, Emma Millions and (voice only) Scott Antony.

Xavier gives some good insight into Ken’s working such as how he edits. He also mentions the friendship between Ken and Coppola, and Scorsese (who would send Ken copies of his latest films), as well as Fellini’s admiration of Ken. He also mentions Ken’s mixed feelings about Kubrick.

Judith Paris brings out how devoted she is to the work of Ken and mentions his insistence on lots of takes. As well as in films, she worked with Ken in the theatre.

Emma Millions covers the last films of Ken. She gives examples of Ken’s inventiveness such as when they had to find a way of portraying a castle collapsing (The Fall of the Louse of Usher) and he came up with the idea of using a bouncy castle. She also touchingly tells how she burst into tears when she overheard someone say Ken had just died.

The film is just over 55 minutes. You can buy the DVD or the download here


The site has a short online trailer you can watch.




Recent changes to the site:

  • upgrade of site underway



 Too late- you missed it:

Tommy in MOMI, New York

Ken Russell film of The Who Tommy

Tommy at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York on 13, 14 Nov 2021.  It is part of their See It Big: Extravaganzas!

"Often we praise movies for their restraint. We’re putting a stop to such gentility with our latest edition of See It Big, a properly super-sized, two-part, bursting-at-the-seams program that features a selection of films that push cinematic style into excess. The makers of these films, which span the silent era to the 21st-century, really pile it on: teeming canvases, crammed frames, ornate art direction and costume design foregrounded by lush camerawork and intense performance style".

More details are here.

Altered States in London, UK

Ken Russell Altered States

Altered States is on at the British Film Institute on 30 Sept 2021.

Ken Russell Altered States


Altered States in St Louis, USA

Ken Russell Altered States

A chance to see Altered States in the open air.  It is on 4 Aug 2021 at The Arkadin Backlot at The Heavy Anchor, St. Louis, MO 63116.

Ken Russell Altered States

The link is here .

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