Monday, September 03, 2012

Becoming Ken Russell!!!

All fans and advocates of Ken know the name Paul Sutton. In the fellowship he's one of the most committed people to preserving Ken's oeuvre for posterity particularly the first 35 shorter films that Ken did for the BBC. Just as Shade Rupe has worked tirelessly to keep Ken's major studio works before the public, and Ian Fisher keeps the online fires burning, Paul is assuring that the smaller films (films that the UK public paid for) are no longer buried and hard to see. As it stands now, there is only a region 1 release of a half dozen or so films. A region 2 release of some very rare later works is due in a year....makes no sense really. Is it really that challenging for the beeb to make Ken's work available? Work that TV licensing fees paid for?

So in an effort to continue the tradition of Ken Russell scholarship (Ken being the star scholar thus far ;) Paul has authored the first of what is apparently going to be a staggering five volumes of sorely needed "Russell indepth". Started in 2007, Becoming Ken Russell: The Authorised Biography of Ken Russell: Volume One (Volume 1) is now been made available and here is Paul's take on it:

"Ken Russell was thirty-two years old in 1959, having been rejected by the British Film Industry because he didn't have the right family connections or the right school tie. Without connections there was no chance of his having a career in film. Until the industry collapsed. The failing studios at Lime Grove, where Alfred Hitchcock made The 39 Steps, and at Ealing, where Alec Guinness closed a series of unprofitable comedies with The Ladykillers, were now in the control of the BBC. And the BBC were looking for new talent.

Hired as an independent filmmaker, Ken Russell made seven short 35mm films in his first year at Lime Grove and at Ealing. The films were about dance and painting, architecture, comedy, poetry and music. The seven films were all about England. And they were all about him.

The Seven Ken Russell Films of 1959 advanced the art of cinema, acted as a sort of `blueprint' for masters such as Stanley Kubrick, and redefined the meaning of `English Cinema'. The films stand with the best made anywhere in the world that year. The year Ken Russell `became' Ken Russell.

Using tens of thousands of pages of original documents, decades of letters, and hundreds of interviews with Ken Russell, his family and his colleagues, Paul Sutton's multi-volume biography of Russell is the most complete portrait of an English film artist"

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