Eccentric, provocative British filmmaker Ken Russell died Sunday. According to family members, he went peacefully in his sleep. Russell was 84. The Oscar-nominated director was both hailed and reviled for his controversial and often sexually-charged projects, including Women in Love, Tommy, and Altered States. More after the break.
Russell first shot to acclaim with his adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's novel, Women in Love, which garnered him a Best Director nomination and his lead actress, Glenda Jackson, a Best Actress win. He also directed Tommy, the film version of The Who's rock opera.
Russell was no stranger to the horror genre. His first horror feature, The Devils, drew outrage for its representation of sexually-repressed nuns and violent exorcisms. Allegedly, when Russell went on British talk show Late Night Lineup, he got into a yelling match with film critic Alexander Walker (who did not like the film) and hit him before storming off set. Other genre films of Russell's include Altered States, about a scientist who experiments on himself with hallucinogenic drugs; Gothic, about the night Mary Shelley conceived Frankenstein; The Lair of the White Worm, based on Bram Stoker's novel; and The Fall of the Louse of Usher, a gothic comedy/musical.
In addition to filmmaking, Russell was a writer and novelist. In addition to an autobiography, Russell published several novels about composers - all focusing on their sex lives, and a dystopian novel called Violation.