Tributes have been paid to the “unique” talent of British film director Ken Russell, following his sudden death at the age of 84.
The director of Women In Love and The Devils “passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday afternoon”, his “devastated” wife Elize said.
The Oscar-nominated film-maker, who began his career in television, had a reputation as an enfant terrible of the British movie world.
Women In Love (1969) is known to a generation for its nude male wrestling scene, with Oliver Reed and Alan Bates.
Glenda Jackson, who won a best actress Oscar for her role in the film, said it was a “privilege” to know Russell as both a film director and a friend. She said Russell had an “incredible visual genius”, “a passion” and “a third eye” when it came to film-making. “His contribution to cinema, not only in this country, but also internationally, will last,” she said. But the MP, who also starred in Russell’s The Rainbow (1989) and The Music Lovers (1970), said he had not been given the recognition he deserved in later years.
“It’s an absolute shame that the British film industry has ignored him. It’s an absolute disgrace… he broke down barriers for so many people,” she said.
The maverick film-maker was known for his uncomfortable stories about the church and for using sexually challenging material. The Devils, initially featuring a scene with naked nuns, was banned by some authorities in the UK and in many other countries. Film director Michael Winner said Russell would be best remembered for the 1971 movie, starring Vanessa Redgrave.
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