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Film director Ken Russell dead at 84

I first discovered Russell with Women In Love in 1969, his marvelous adaptation of the D.H.Lawrence novel which also brought actors Alan Bates and Oliver Reed to fame with a nude wrestling scene.

My favorite of Russell’s films was The Music Lovers  his  experimental biography of Tchaikovsky, which led to other biographies of Liszt, Mahler and French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska.

In the 1980s, Russell’s directing hit the skids and he was unable to get a production with a successful review and he turned to working for British television with short biographies. He also directed plays, at least one, Mindgame, off-Broadway in 2008.

Probably the greatest of Russell’s contributions to the film medium was to show that reality was not the only answer. He influenced many younger directors (I think Terry Gilliam is a good example.)

In a comment on his career, Russell said:

“I believe in what I’m doing wholeheartedly, passionately, and what’s more, I simply go about my business. I suppose such a thing can be annoying to some people.”