Delius Redux Pt 1: That odd feeling you get....
If our son decides not to nap then I usually put on dvd from the Ken Russell at the BBC box set; usually Elgar. He then gets to absorb some culture with me as I reach for a 2:00pm cup coffee. Reading more about the making of "Delius: Song of Summer" in Joesph Lanza's book, I re-watched it today and have thus far found my most uncomfortable moment in a Ken Russell film. Why it's effects eluded me previously I have no idea. I think as I digest and learn more about Ken Russell the artist I'm simply seeing and feeling more.
For me there are so far only two uncomfortable moments in Ken's work both of which I'll discuss here. Prior to this it was only the homage to Luchino Visconti's "Death in Venice" in Mahler that concerned me. An ailing Mahler (Robert Powell) looks out the window with a beautific and optimistic look on his face as an older man looks lovingly at a young boy preening around the platform. It just weirds the hell out of me. I think because I was so much older looking for my age when I was 9 to 12ish and had a great deal of adults checking me out that it hits some kind of note in my memory. The tallest kid always is blamed first. Stared and accosted I was, sometimes with avarice and sometimes with longing and disgustingly with lust. Anonymous adults in public places were like the zombies of my childhood. Thus the platform scene in Mahler is just simply too visceral.
The in scene Delius: Song of Summer which now eclipses it just smacks for how becoming an adult (and therefore leadened down with so much shit in one's psyche) dictates life. In the scene, Fenby (Christopher Gable) and Jelka all react in their own silent and stunned way as they play Delius' own music for him. It fills and then floods a beautiful sunny room with afternoon light and passionate energy. The composer, despite being paralysed and blind, acts like he's either going to have an orgasm or cry out that he is the Master God of the universe for all eternity as he he sits listening. Many film historians incorrectly state that apart from the trip to Norway sequence (when he is still with his sight) the only time we see Delius with open eyes is when he has finally died. Incorrect. In this scene his eyes are wide open like he's possessed, stunned and most of all incandescent within the knowledge, the UNDYING BELIEF that he is a great artist. It simply makes me uncomfortable that he's so high on himself.
I'm simply too uncomfortable with mortality to not look away.