ken russell (1927-2011)


It is the commonplace fate of British cinema’s more visionary talents to end their careers marginalised and even mocked. This was certainly what happened to Ken Russell, who has died aged 84. In his latter years, with his shock of white hair and his red face, the director cut a cantankerous and slightly buffoonish figure. He asked for money for interviews. His greatest work wasn’t much in circulation. Those who knew him from such lesser efforts as The Fall Of The Louse Of Usher (2002), his eccentric and low-budget Edgar Allan Poe adaptation, or for his Cliff Richard and Sara Brightman videos, were probably baffled that he had such a glowing reputation. The director’s son Alex Verney-Elliott said his father had died in hospital after a series of strokes. Russell’s widow, Elize, said she was “devastated” by her husband’s death, which had been “completely unexpected”. Even in his pomp, he had always been a figure of considerable controversy. He was so often called the “enfant terrible” of British film that no one paid as much attention to his craftsmanship as they should have done.

more from Geoffrey Macnab at The Independent here.