British director Ken Russell started out training for a naval career, but after wartime RAF and merchant navy service he switched goals and went into ballet. Supplementing his dancing income as an actor and still photographer, Russell put together a handful of amateur films in the 50s before being hired as a staff director by the BBC. Russell made a name for himself (albeit a name not always spoken in reverence) during the first half of the ‘60s by directing a series of iconoclastic TV dramatizations of the lives of famous composers and dancers. And if he felt that the facts were getting in the way of his story, he’d make up his own — frequently bordering on the libelous. If he had any respect for the famous persons whose lives he probed, it was secondary to his fascination with revealing all warts and open wounds.
A film director since 1963, Russell burst into the international consciousness with 1969’s Women in Love, a hothouse version of the D.H. Lawrence novel. No director… read more
Russell's endless montage of fever dreams and eternal nightmares is exhilarating; an audio-visual onslaught. Against the noise and the horror and the pure pantomime of the Byron, Shelley and Dr. Polidori caricatures, it is the tragedy of Mary Shelley that stands out; anchoring the film's perverse, grotesque hotchpotch of references to a very real, very human tragedy. Her inability to bear a child becoming the fear of giving birth to a monster; a living embodiment of her own sadness, sickness and self-loathing. Richardson was never better.
I will never not love this movie! It's cracky and it's eerie, it's creepy and it's kooky. It's about some of my favourite people and even though some moments are questionable at best, it includes little nods to minor details about their lives (nicknames, for example).