Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Phallic Frenzy: Ken Russell and His Films (2008)

Author: Joseph Lanza | Page Count: 384

When every second counts, it is often necessary to say two things at once; which is why I frequently introduce symbolism into scenes of reality.” –Russell.

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the lover of kitsch and vaudeville imagery Ken Russell but were unable to ask.  It functions as a biography of his early years (although hurries quickly over one of the most traumatic events in his early life, I put this down to a show of respect for Russell) which helps shed light on the reasons for some of his adulthood fixations.  Later, it dissects and gives some juicy behind the scenes info on all his films.  Film fans will find this latter part of most interest.  Personally, I loved both parts.  Although, I had to selectively skip some paragraphs because I've not had the pleasure of viewing certain films yet.  Take note: spoilers aplenty in this book.

The biography part charts Ken’s (slow) rise from his days quietly challenging the uptight poker-in-the-ass BBC TV system, through his enfant terrible days, and finally to his New Forest films.  The book is arranged mostly chronologically which helps understand the progression and reasons for his changing beliefs, and how he integrated them into his filmic works.  Whether you find him offensive or seductive is unimportant, you can't deny his auteur status.

Author Lanza rightly identifies that one of Russell’s “…strongest metaphors is nature, both its majestic and hidden sides.”  Watch any of his films and you’ll come to the same conclusion.  That affinity for nature defines Russell just as much as the religious / sexual imagery that he flaunts.  Together, they form something both glorious and vulgar.  Like the man himself.

Sadly, Ken Russell died in November 2011 (aged 84).

4 masturbating nuns and a dog named poopass out of 5

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