One of the greatest provocateurs of cinema, Ken Russell, died yesterday at the age of 84, SFGate reports. Mr. Russell was most well-known for films such as the rock opera Tommy; Crimes of Passion, starring Kathleen Turner as a nice-girl-by-day-hooker-by-night; and Altered States, in which William Hurt plays a scientist who experiments with hallucinogenic drugs.
But one of the things Russell was most well-known for— and certainly beloved by us for— was his amazing use of sexual imagery (often mixed with violent imagery) and his lavish artistic plunges into the subconscious. He had run-ins with the censors, The New York Times writes, and his 1969 film Women in Love included a ground-breaking wrestling scene with Alan Bates and Oliver Reed, featuring frontal male nudity, which barely passed the British censors.
Oh, there was so much more where that came from. And we were so thankful for it. Like The Devils, a real-life tale of “demonic possession in a French convent, complete with exorcism rituals and blasphemous orgies,” which barely escaped an X-rating; and the scene in Tommy that featured Ann-Margaret writhing around in soap bubbles, baked beans and chocolate ...
Those are but the tip of the Ken Russell iceberg, so watch all the tributes, rent the movies and enter world of dreams, ideas and daring sexuality he brought us during his life. We won’t forget him.