Transcending In Memoriam: Ken Russell

From the first time I watched Gothic, I was forever hooked on Ken Russell. But that wasn’t the first time I’d been privy to his filmic experience. At the tender age of 10, my sister brought home what would become a greatly treasured cinematic find – The Who’s Tommy. I had no clue it’d been a record and definitely none the wiser to The Who as artists in their own right. All I knew was that I found it impossible to peel away from a single frame of the hyperreal journey for this ethereally blue eyed.

It was as if I’d been handed the keys to imagination and told, “This is what it looks like when you take seemingly non-sensical, visually imposible dreams and make them into a movie.” I watched it so many times, I’m almost certain the VCR spewed smoke and the tape was one viewing away from jamming it up for good. To this day, each time I watch it I feel I too was thrown through a giant mirror, flying high through the air and into the ocean to declare, I’m Free!!

With Russell’s recent passing, my interest grew to expand on his earlier catalog. And so I recently became acquainted with the dance spectacular ‘The Boyfriend’. Based on a 1950’s musical, this NY Times review described it as “an almost total transformation”.

This is vintage Russell, thick with visuals and tangential in style I was immediately reminded of the otherworldly filmmaking of The Coen Brothers in the now inimitable classic ‘The Big Lebowski’.

Watch for yourself – the similarities in costume, choreography and staging are uncanny!

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