Ken Russell

In the November 29th NYT, an obit for Ken Russell (Dennis Lim, “Ken Russell, 84, Director Fond of Provocation, Dies”):

Ken Russell, the English filmmaker and writer whose outsize personality matched the confrontational brashness of his movies, among them “Women in Love” and “The Devils,” died on Sunday at his home in Lymington, England.

The linguistic interest in this story comes in the adjectives applied to Russell and his films over the years: flamboyant, extravagant, over-the-top, excessive, frenzied (applied especially to his film version of Tommy, something of a guilty pleasure of mine), shrill, outrageous, vulgar, blasphemous, outsize(d), indecent, brashpassionate, provocative. (In this company, brash, passionate, and provocative sound positively bland.)

He had (as Lim puts it) a “fascination with genius, ambition, and the creative process” and aimed at “making high culture accessible to a popular audience”. For the most part, critics reviled him.

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