The strange affliction mentioned in the title is an obsession with numbers. Russell portrays Bruckner as something like an obsessive compulsive. The movie begins with Bruckner arriving at a country home where a man and a woman in a nurse’s uniform await him. He has counted the spokes and the rotations of the wheel and tells his new acquaintances. He counts the letters in their names when they introduce themselves. He is then dunked repeatedly in an ice bath. Bruckner has been sent to receive mental health treatment without his consent, but is more upset that that his wards chose to dunk him four times. It’s not a good number.
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