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Sympathy Note for Ken Russell


»Remembering Ken Russell«

With great sadness Filmfest Oldenburg learned of the passing away of Ken Russell. The seminal director and revered film personality of British cinema, who was honored with a retrospective at the 2005 Oldenburg Film Festival, died November 27th.

Born in 1927 in Southampton Ken Russell went on to study photography in the 1950s and directed numerous artist’s bio-pics for the BBC. In 1969 he had his international breakthrough with “Women in Love”, an adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley” starring Glenda Jackson and Alan Bates. Glenda Jackson received an Academy Award for her performance in the film. Over the next years Russell became one of Britain’s most sought-after filmmakers. Movies like “The Devils” (1971) with Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave or the rock-opera “Tommy” (1975) helped his fame to grow. In the 70s he started to work on a number of films about composers, among them “The Music Lovers” (1970) starring Richard Chamberlain. “Altered States” (1980) tells the story of a fantastic scientific experiment, in which scientist Edward Jessup (William Hurt) tries to reach a state of prenatal awareness. After the classic “Crimes of Passion” (1984) starring Kathleen Turner and Anthony Perkins he started working on eccentric low-budget films at the end of the 1990s, one of them being “The Fall of the Louse of Usher” (2002). His film “Hot Pants” had its world premiere in Oldenburg in 2005.

With his uncompromising views about British society Ken Russell provoked much international attention in the 70s and 80s. The decay and vanishing of the British bourgeoisie are one of the main themes in his movies. His vivid visual language portrays the clash of middle-class values with bizarre sexuality.

The way he challenged established borders with his aesthetics and his themes made him a revolutionary who rebelled against a paralysed perception of cinema. With unmatched dynamic he combined music, film and theatre and established himself as the spark for the development of new genres.

Last year Ken supported us by participating in the making of the festival trailer “The Aristofrogs”. We thank him for his inspiring spirit and his reverence for life.


»Sympathy Note for Ken Russell«

We at the Oldenburg International Film Festival join with so many others who were honored to know Ken Russell in offering our deepest sympathy on his passing.

The greater the gift the greater the loss – and his gift to us in Oldenburg was invaluable. His loss is felt by all of us who were blessed to be enriched by his inspiring spirit and reverence for life.

Ken will remain in our hearts forever.


Sent with love and remembrance,

Torsten Neumann and the Oldenburg Filmfest Family