Ken Russell, one of Britain's most daring filmmakers, has died at the age of 84. He is hailed for his raucous 1969 adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's novel Women in Love , which won him an Oscar nomination. He died in hospital on Sunday following a series of strokes, according to his son, Alex Verney-Elliott. “My father died peacefully, he died with a smile on his face,” he said.
Russell's wife, Elize, described his death as “completely unexpected” leaving her “devastated'”.
Glenda Jackson, who won an Oscar for her role in Women in Love and worked in a number of Russell's other films, said it was “just wonderful to work with him and to work with him as often as I did.” “He created the kind of climate in which actors could do their job and I loved him dearly,” she told the BBC. Ms. Jackson, a Labour MP, said it was a “great shame” that Russell was overlooked by the British film industry in later years.
Russell established a reputation for his unconventional method of filmmaking and his films were known as much for their theme as his innovative style. Women in Love became controversial for a nude wrestling scene between Oliver Reed and Alan Bates.
His other controversial works included religious drama The Devils and rock opera Tommy .
Russell's most productive decades were the 1960s and the 70s, when he earned both notoriety and praise in equal measure for daring to tread where his contemporaries felt afraid to. “He pushed the barriers completely and got away with it sometimes and didn't at other times, but he made some startling movies,” said filmmaker Michael Winner.
By the 1990s, however, tastes had changed and he found it difficult get funding. He recalled how the BBC once returned a script with the note that it was not “cinematic enough”.