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Film-maker Ken Russell dies at 84

Devon Malcolm

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British film director Ken Russell, who was Oscar-nominated for his 1969 film Women In Love, has died at the age of 84.


His son, Alex, said he died peacefully in his sleep in a hospital on Sunday.


During his career, he became known for his controversial films including Women In Love, which featured Oliver Reed and Alan Bates wrestling nude.


He also directed the infamous religious drama The Devils and The Who's rock opera, Tommy, in 1975.


Glenda Jackson, who starred in Russell's films including Women In Love, told the BBC it was "just wonderful to work with him and to work with him as often as I did."


"He created the kind of climate in which actors could do their job and I loved him dearly."


Film-maker Michael Winner hailed Russell's "duplicity of mind", adding he had made an "enormous contribution" to British cinema.


"He pushed the barriers completely and got away with it sometimes and didn't others, but he made some startling movies," she said.


"He had an eye for the composition of each image on the screen - a great eye for imagery and then, of course, he had a great idea for the grotesque."


Some of Ken Russell's best known work included Women In Love, The Devils, Tommy and musical The Boyfriend


Russell later returned to more small budget, but no less flamboyant fare, including Crimes of Passion, Gothic, Salome's Last Dance and the cult horror-comedy The Lair of the White Worm, starring Hugh Grant.


The director also made an adaptation of DH Lawrence's The Rainbow followed by the gritty film, Whore, and even tried his hand at music videos, making Nikita for Sir Elton John.


Many of Russell's later films were dismissed as too eclectic and by the 1990s he found it almost impossible to get funding for his work.


He returned to the public eye in 2007, when he appeared on Celebrity Big Brother.


He lasted just four days before quitting the show after a disagreement with fellow contestant, the late Jade Goody.




I love Ken's films. Lair Of The White Worm is great fun but he made some genuinely excellent and daring films - The Devils and Women In Love are tremendous, and Gothic is incredibly underrated as far as I'm concerned. He was avant-garde but unlike Peter Greenaway, he actually made films to entertain and that were accessible. He was also good fun on Big Brother.


That was a crap weekend :(

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The Devils is quite possibly the maddest film ever made, and one of the best. This is why I can't do my Top 10 films, I always forget stuff like that.


Like a lot of non-mainstream British directors, he got cut out of the picture from the 80s onwards. Great director though.

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Like a lot of non-mainstream British directors, he got cut out of the picture from the 80s onwards. Great director though.


One of the reasons why the industry over here went to shit for a while before Film Four almost single-handedly resurrected it.


Russell, technically, didn't make all that many great films - but he took risks, tried different things and pushed boundaries and for those things, and for putting Amanda Donohoe in THAT outfit, he deserves to be respected.

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