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Ken Russell: Perspectives, Reception and Legacy
Fri, 14 Jul 2017, 09:00 – Sun, 16 Jul 2017, 18:30 BST
Ken Russell was a renaissance man whose career encompassed not only film and television but also ballet, dance, the music video, photography, opera and the written word. His pioneering early work for the BBC's Monitor and Omnibus, from the 1950s through to the 1970s, redefined the art of the arts documentary and biographical format and he was among the first to negotiate the relationship between film and television. His major cinematic works, films such as Tommy (1975), Lisztomania (1975), Women In Love (1969), French Dressing (1964), Valentino (1977), The Music Lovers (1970), The Boyfriend (1971) and, of course, The Devils (1971) (among others) helped redefine the term ‘a British picture' (to use one of Russell's own phrases). Yet this vast body of work has received considerably less critical attention than those of his contemporaries (Stanley Kubrick for instance).
During his lifetime his work polarised critical and popular opinion. Criticised by some as tasteless, transgressive, camp, outrageous (and lauded just as much for the same qualities) and praised by others for its artistry, intellect, craftsmanship and beauty. Russell's films are considered to be among the most pioneering and important in post war arts cinema and culture (praised by Fellini himself as ‘the British Fellini') as well as sitting comfortably among a set of cult and transgressive texts.
Russell's work, however, is gaining new cultural currency with a range of contemporary film makers (such as Ben Wheatley and Guillermo del Toro) citing the importance of his influence over their own. There is even an ongoing internet campaign (#FreeTheDevils) which aims to liberate the complete uncut version of The Devils from Warner Bros.
Following in the wake of the 30th anniversary of his 1986 film Gothic (and of the sad passing of the critic Ken Hanke, one Russell's staunchest defenders), this conference hopes to be a forum to discuss and share current research in and around the field of Russell studies. We will explore all aspects of his work and in particular Russell's cultural legacy and influence in film, television and across the visual arts; we will consider Russell's place within 20th century visual culture and discuss how Russell's work has been (and is being) received, recuperated and culturally restored in the 21st century.
Keynote addresses to be given by Professor Linda Ruth Williams (Southampton University), Dr Brian Hoyle (Dundee University) and Lisi Tribble (wife of and collaborator with Ken Russell). We also welcome Paul Sutton (Ken Russell biographer and author of the book Talking About Ken Russell).
We are also very pleased to welcome actor, Ken Russell collaborator and his lifelong friend Murray Melvin (Diary of a Nobody, BBC, 1964; Isadora, the Biggest Dancer in the World, 1966; The Devils, 1971; The Boyfriend, 1971; Lisztomania, 1975; Rime of the Ancient Mariner, ITV, 1978; Prisoner of Honour, 1991) to join us for a Q&A session. Murray's illustrious career in film, television and theatre has lasted from 1959 to the present. Other than with Ken Russell, Murray has worked with such directors as Tony Richardson (A Taste of Honey, 1961) and Stanley Kubrick (Barry Lyndon, 1975) as well as with Joan Littlewood. He is a founder member of Actor's Centre and the Theatre Workshop, and archivist of the Theatre Royal, Stratford.
Please click here to view the official programme (subject to change) (coming soon).
For more information please visit the official conference Facebook page and if you use Twitter, please get involved using #KenRKingston.