The Silver Screen: Two Films with Ken Russell

Characteristically, David laughed about Fiddler, the film opportunity he turned down ...


The Devils
Aldous Huxley’s “The Devils of Loudon” filmed by Russell. About power, corruption and political expediency as the church (Cardinal Richelieu) and state (Louis XIII) battle for power over the city of Loudon. And Father Urbain Grandier in Loudon will fall victim, a priest who has lovers yet turns out to have nobility.The original version was censored, the later versions include the short but harrowing torture scene. The power of Russell’s imagery was so powerful that many critics complained of scenes which they thought were in the film, but were not, rather they were implied.

When on a television programme with Russell, critic Alexander Walker called the film “monstrously indecent”, Russell famously hit him over the head with a rolled up newspaper.


The Music Lovers
Ken Russell’s famous quote “if I hadn’t told United Artists it was a film about a homosexual who fell in love with a nymphomaniac it might never have been financed”. The working title was The Lonely Heart.

Not a biography of Tchaikovsky, but rather looking at the people round Tchaikovsky (the music lovers).

Tchaikovsky cannot handle the contradictions in his life and turns his haunted thoughts into music. The music lovers twist his music into their own fantasies, and drag Tchaikovsky down to their own image of him.

The film is packed with images and excitement, with the life story providing a common link. Music, gay forbidden love, a mother dying of cholera, a sponsor who never wants to meet Tchaikovsky and who suddenly ended the sponsorship, critical failure and death by cholera, just like his mother.