One of the greatest directors of all time, the 83-year-old Ken Russell, is enjoying a retrospective at the Lincoln Center Film Society, Russellmania, starting this coming weekend going on through July 5th. This is one filmmaker who pushed the envelope both creatively and professionally, and in many ways changed both the face of cinema, inspiring many of my generation both aesthetically and personally.
Not only will many of his best films be screened -- from rarely seen works such as The Devils (1971) and Savage Messiah (1972) -- but his Oscar-winning Women in Love (1969) and his extravagant version of The Who's Tommy (1975) are among the widely acclaimed films that will get a proper showing again.
More importantly, the eccentric British filmmaker will also make an extended appearance, spending six nights conversing with the audience about several of his most memorable and provocative films. And I will be there as much as I can.
On the opening night, Friday, July 30th, 2010, he discusses his experiences in making The Devils, his torturously graphic telling of an political persecution inspired by Aldous Huxley's The Devils of Loudon (with Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave). Though Russell was in New York not long ago for his production of the play, Mindgame, it's been years since he came here for such a substantial time to really talk about his work publicly.
On Saturday, July 31, Russell will answer questions about his sexually ground-breaking version of D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love. The film starred Glenda Jackson, Reed and Alan Bates, and is unforgettable for its nude wrestling scene, which showed male genitalia.
On Sunday August 1st, The Boy Friend will screen with Russell and one of its actors, Broadway vet Tommy Tune, in attendance. This is one of his many musically-inspired films, this time harkening back to the Jazz Age starring famous model Twiggy and Jackson. On Monday Aug. 2nd, the burly director will join the audience in discussing Mahler, one of his several biographical films inspired by the life of a classical composer. Another one of those fascinating cinematic re-imaginings, Lisztomania, will have Russell on hand this coming Wednesday, August 4th.
Finally, on Thursday August 5th, the Film Society will show his incredible visual fantasy version of the Who's landmark rock opera -- to be dissected by director and audience alike.