Henry Kenneth Alfred Russell was born in 1927 in Southampton, Great Britain. He studied at Pangbourne Naval College in Berkshire. He was an intelligent and learned (colto) film director always interested in experimentation. Shy (timido) and introvert at the beginning of his career he became very extravagant and wild, another way of protecting his inner thoughts (pensieri intimi). He started making some amateur films for the BBC´s Monitor programme creating low budget (basso costo) television documentaries. An example: as the budget was low for actors he created the effects of crowd using mirrors. Among the films directed for TV are many biographies of great artists : Elgar (1962), The Debussy Film (1965), Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World (1967), Song of Summer (about Frederick Delius and Eric Fenby, 1968) and Dance of the Seven Veils (1970), about Richard Strauss.In films his wild visual imagery stroke the public attention even if they were always discussed because of his use of phallic symbols and marching Nazis ; his main themes were Catholicism dealt with (trattato) in irreligious or sacrilegious ways , the theme of sacrifice and of sexuality treated liberally in all its aspects. Ken Russell, in common with most directors had a group of actors he called on (chiamava) for his films, in particular Oliver Reed and Glenda Jackson: when they met him both had not fame and experience, Russel brought out (fece emergere) their talents.
Among the great works – the most famous shot between the 1960s and 1980s – are The Devils, Women in Love, The Music Lovers, Mahler, Savage Messiah, and on television Elgar and Song of Summer. Works that have moments of sheer genius include Tommy, Altered States, Crimes of Passion, Aria, Salome´s Last Dance, the amateur film Amelia and the Angel and the opera Mefistofeles. Minor works, but still of interest, include French Dressing, Gothic, Whore, The Rainbow and on television Clouds of Glory, Lady Chatterley, A British Picture, Elgar 2, the pop video Nikita, Lisztomania, The Lair of the White Worm and The Fall of the House of Usher.
Ken Russell died on 27 November 2011, at the age of 84, of natural causes