The British aren't exactly known for their decadent, Baroque sensibilities, but director Ken Russell, who passed away this weekend at the age of 84, spent his life trying to change his country's "stiff upper lip" image. Russell had trouble securing funding for his elaborate epics later in his career, but his innovations (and skinnovatons!) in the art of cinema have assured his influence will be felt for many years to come. Get an eye-opening education in the nude sensibilities of Ken Russell with our Ken Russell Movies: The Very Breast Scenes playlist, right here at MrSkin.com!
Russell rose to prominence with 1969's Women in Love, which shocked viewers with its skinny-dipping scenes, homoerotic undertones, and depiction of- horrors!- the female orgasm. At the time British filmmaking was dominated by "kitchen sink realism," which rejected fanciful plots and elaborate sets in favor of grey, dour stories about grey, dour people. Russell's bombastic style flew in the face of all these ideas, as described by Geoff Andrew, head of the British Film Institute:
"He used surrealism, exaggeration, colour, music, costume, to push things beyond realism. No-one was doing that in Britain, and the 'shockingness' of his style was part and parcel of that. He didn't feel he had to restrain himself - he didn't want to be part of this grey world," Andrews told the UK's Channel 4.
Another shocking aspect of Russell's films was their plentiful nudity- Helen Mirren, Kathleen Turner, Joely Richardson, Theresa Russell, and Michelle Phillips (to name a few) have all done nudity in Russell films, and Glenda Jackson was one of the first mainstream actresses to go full frontal in The Music Lovers (1971). That same year, Russell's film The Devils (1971) was widely banned thanks to its depiction of the intersection between sex, violence, and religious ecstasy, a controversy Russell welcomed, as he did with the many outrages his films sparked over the years.
A great lover of classical music, Russell gleefully combined high culture and cheap thrills in films like Lisztomania (1975), Mahler (1974) and Lady Chatterly (1992). But he was equally comfortable in the gutter, as shown by his streetwalking sagas Whore (1991) and Crimes of Passion (1984), and this combination made him the perfect conduit to bring the Who's depraved rock opera Tommy (1975) to the big screen.
Russell had trouble securing funding for his elaborate epics later in his career, but his innovations (and skinnovatons!) in the art of cinema have assured his influence will be felt for many years to come.
Get an eye-opening education in the nude sensibilities of Ken Russell with our Ken Russell Movies: The Very Breast Scenes playlist, right here at MrSkin.com!