Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy Birthday, Ken Russell!

I mentioned over on Twitter that I was more excited to celebrate Ken Russell's birthday than I was the 4th of July. And as delighted as I am to have a job where writing a celebratory post on the occasion is a duty specifically called for in my job description, I have, of course, not exhausted everything I want to say about this estimable figure.

I came in at the tail end of the main of his career - of all of his films I only ever saw WHORE during its theatrical run. I've been lucky enough to catch up with some of his work in rep screenings, and other films (LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM and particularly SALOME'S LAST DANCE, possibly my favorite cinematic adaptation of a play) were mainstays of my video watching then and now.

Though he'd had a long and provocative life and career (which only got more and more outrageous the older he got), I was still stunned and saddened by his death in November 2011. One naturally assumes that such larger-than-life folk will remain, but of course this isn't so.

Reading up on Russell prior to writing about him I clicked through to the article on "A Kitten for Hitler", a rare Internet-only film from Russell. Challenged in 2007 to make a film that he would himself want to have banned, Russell created a short, bizarre, and horribly, horribly wrong little eight-minute short. The hilariously shit CGI is only the start of it. The thing is on YouTube. Consider yourself warned.

Today with Russell firmly on my mind, I kept laughing about this movie. Marvelling at its sheer wrongness, but delighted that there's still a huge body of work to be experienced for the first time. It should hold me over until 2019, when his Richard Strauss documentary can be legally shown again.

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