Ken Russell, the British filmmaker and writer whose most popular films included his 1969 adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love, The Who's Tommy (1975), and the 1980 science fiction film Altered States, died yesterday following a series of strokes it has been reported. He was 84 years of age. An ever controversial figure Russell was known for pushing the envelope with his films' focus on sexuality and the church and stirred up perhaps the most controversy with his film The Devils. The content of this 1971 film about a seventeenth century outbreak of religious hysteria resulted confrontation with censors - something that Russell relished in since he clearly enjoyed pushing buttons and eliciting provocation from what he saw as staid film goers. His film Women in Love ably achieved this with its naked wrestling scene that featured stars Oliver Reed and Alan Bates in full-frontal nudity. As a compromise with the irate British censorship board Russell edited a few of the these shots to get the film in British cinemas. The film would earn Russell his sole Academy Award nomination for best director and would win Glenda Jackson an Oscar for best actress. Other films by Russell, many available on DVD at Amoeba (ask for help if you cannot locate), include his 1970 Tchaikovsky biopic The Music Lovers, 1967's Billion Dollar Brain with Michael Caine, and 1971's The Boy Friend starring Twiggy.
The Who "I'm Free" from Ken Russell's film The Who's Tommy (1975)