I'm pleased to say that I'll be making one of the keynote presentations at the 3-day Ken Russell conference at Kingston University, near London, this coming weekend, July 14th-16th . The conference has delegates arriving from Germany, Hungary, Japan, the United States and, possibly, Wales. As well as several favourite Russell scholars from England, including Brian Hoyle and Linda Ruth Williams.
I'll also be interviewing on stage the very wonderful Dr. Murray Melvin. Actually that's Dr. Dr. Murray Melvin for he has two honorary doctorates for being one of England's finest men.
The conference has been put together by Dr. Matt Melia, who hails from the wrong side of Liverpool, but you will have heard how good he is on the blu-ray commentary for Lair of the White Worm, one of the fascinating B-movies Ken made on a budget that was lower than Howard Hawks' The Thing.
Here's the abstract for my talk, though it doesn't really do it justice. Amongst other things I'll be explaining The Russell Trinity, one of the techniques he pioneered to advance the grammar of film (clue, it involves using sculptured props as a narrative device in the symbolic tranformation of a man into The Everyman and Christ) and I'll be showing some surprising film clips, such as the train ride from Cinerama Holiday (what's that got to do with Ken Russell? Nothing, but...)
Paul Sutton analyses examples of three categories of three-dimensional art, a) photographic space, b) sculpture, and c) dance, that span the breadth of Russell’s career, to show that three-dimensional art is a constant and a defining characteristic of the Ken Russell film style. He shows how Russell’s use of space, dance, statuary, figurines and sculptured props goes beyond interlude and set dressing to shape performances, and to add subtext, authority, metaphor, autobiography and humour to Russell’s attempts to realise his stated main aim of pure cinema: “that instantaneous encapsulating of someone’s entire life, or so many crucial years, in images.” (Russell talking to Ric Gentry, Post Script v2:3 Summer 83)
Here's a screengrab of the incredible sculptured prop made by Christopher Hobbs for Ken Russell's The Devils:
|The Christ statue in a still-banned scene from The Devils|