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PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 10:22 am 
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February 2016.

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February sees a celebration of one of Britain’s most distinctive filmmakers, Ken Russell. First, two Dual Format Edition box set will showcase Russell’s brilliant television films from the 60s. Ken Russell: The Great Composers, brings together his career defining work for the award-winning arts documentary shows Monitor and Omnibus: Elgar (1962), The Debussy Film (1965) and Delius: Song of Summer (1968). The second boxset, Ken Russell: The Great Passions collects together three great works concerning themselves with iconic artists: Always on Sunday (1965) about Henri Rousseau; Isadora: the Biggest Dancer in the World (1966) about dancer Isadora Duncan; and Dante’s Inferno (1967) about Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his model Elizabeth Siddal. Complementing these BBC TV sets is the UK High Definition premiere of Valentino (1977). Released in a Dual Format Edition, this flamboyant and sexually-charged film explores the life of one of the silver screen’s greatest legends.


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 Post subject: Re: Ken Russell
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 12:18 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:19 pm
If the BFI is able to license the newly recorded Tim Lucas commentary from the Kino release of Valentino, then its dual-format status (and hopefully as-yet unannounced extras) easily make it the better of the two releases. And I'm also sure that the BFI's transfer will be better (if only slightly) than Kino's.

As for the television box sets, it's great to see these films back in print (although I believe the U.S. box set has never gone OOP) and newly restored in HD, no less. Still disappointing that it's the same films getting released once again, as opposed to other, more difficult to find titles (obviously Dance of the Seven Veils remains in limbo, but there are countless others that even the BFI has released on editions of other films; I'm assuming copyrights is playing a big obstacle here?). Regardless, here's hoping the BFI includes the old commentary tracks Russell recorded for Elgar and Song of Summer (and maybe even the two interviews/features included on the U.S. box set).


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 Post subject: Re: Ken Russell
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 12:43 pm 
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Artwork for Valentino:

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 Post subject: Re: Ken Russell
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 1:29 pm 
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criterion10 wrote:
As for the television box sets, it's great to see these films back in print (although I believe the U.S. box set has never gone OOP) and newly restored in HD, no less. Still disappointing that it's the same films getting released once again, as opposed to other, more difficult to find titles (obviously Dance of the Seven Veils remains in limbo, but there are countless others that even the BFI has released on editions of other films; I'm assuming copyrights is playing a big obstacle here?).

I suspect rights issues are behind the non-appearance of Béla Bartók, the only feature-length project between Elgar and Song of Summer not to be included in the US DVD box. Although the copyright to Bartók's music expires at the end of this year, there are likely to be significant clip-rights issues given that Russell never went anywhere near Hungary and relied heavily on what appears to be large chunks of the Contemporary Films catalogue - I'm pretty sure George Hoellering's Hortobágy is in there somewhere.

His Prokofiev film is likely to be in a similar situation - again, it's largely made up of third-party footage, with the Eisenstein films being merely the most immediately recognisable.

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Regardless, here's hoping the BFI includes the old commentary tracks Russell recorded for Elgar and Song of Summer

Given that the BFI owns the commentaries outright, I'd be amazed if they didn't.

I'm also keeping my fingers tightly crossed for some of the early Monitor shorts popping up as extras. To be fair to the BFI, once you factor in Pop Goes the Easel's concurrent DVD release, this amounts to a near-complete survey of Russell's feature-length BBC arts programmes from 1958-68, with Béla Bartók being the only exception (there's also the Diary of a Nobody adaptation, but that's in a slightly different category). Everything else is under 30 minutes, and quite a bit of it under 15.


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 Post subject: Re: Ken Russell
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 2:43 pm 
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Location: OOP is the only answer
Are these TV films more essential than Valentino? I haven't seen that many of his films, with my favourites being The Devils and Altered States.


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 Post subject: Re: Ken Russell
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 2:55 pm 
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Much. He made some of his best work for the BBC in the 1960s, and said on several occasions that he regarded Song of Summer as the best thing he ever did.

In the early 1970s, at the height of his big-screen fame, he told his first biographer John Baxter:

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If I could feel that films I did for television were shown all over the world at frequent intervals, I'd probably never make a so-called feature film again.

I get the impression that he much preferred having tiny crews, if only because it was much easier to be spontaneous mid-shoot. And Ken Russell's entire artistic persona revolves around spur-of-the-moment inspiration.


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 Post subject: Re: Ken Russell
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 2:56 pm 
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Also, he regretted doing Valentino and disliked talking about it.


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 Post subject: Re: Ken Russell
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 3:16 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:19 pm
RossyG wrote:
Also, he regretted doing Valentino and disliked talking about it.

He certainly regretted it for quite a while, but there was a quote (can't seem to find it at the moment) by his last wife, Lisi Tribble, claiming after Russell saw the film again at its Lincoln Center screening in 2010, he considered it to be a masterpiece. (Russell seems to have often changed his mind on which personal films he liked/didn't like, even naming Song of Summer, The Devils, and The Music Lovers as his personal favorites, amongst others, at various different points in his life.)

Personally, Valentino is my least favorite Russell from his 70s era, but it still has some great moments. It's still an A-picture in the way his post-Altered States works are not. Certainly worth a watch for Russell fans, though if you're not one, you're probably better off starting with his earlier works (chronologically would certainly be a fine way to go about it).


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 Post subject: Re: Ken Russell
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2015 3:51 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:19 pm
Also, Michael, I should have asked this earlier, but considering that the BFI will be including Pop Goes the Easel on their Visions of Change box set, what are the odds that it will be included as an extra here -- as you hoped some of the earlier Russell shorts might? I mean, since it's already licensed out, it shouldn't be too much of an issue, right? (Or am I just wishful thinking...)


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 2:59 am 
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Very unlikely, I'd have thought. Why put Russell fans off buying Visions of Change?


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2015 6:55 pm 
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Tim Lucas has confirmed that the BFI version of Valentino will also include his commentary.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2015 12:18 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:19 pm
Nice! Also, the Amazon specs for the box sets do claim to include both BFI commentaries, a 1960s interview with Russell on his working process (also included on the BBC America set), and a newly recorded interview with Mike Bradsell.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2016 6:30 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:19 pm
An amazing slate of Special Features for Valentino:

Quote:
Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
Audio commentary with Tim Lucas
Original TV spots and trailers
Dudley Sutton remembers Ken Russell and filming Valentino (2015, 22 mins)
The Guardian Lecture: Ken Russell in conversation with Derek Malcolm (1988, 90 mins, audio with stills)
Lynn Seymour remembers Rudolf Nureyev (2003, 9 mins, audio with stills)
Tonight: Nureyev on Ken Russell and Valentino (1977, 9 mins)
Stills & Special Collections gallery (2016, 10 mins)
The Funeral of Valentino (1926, 9 mins)
Textless opening and closing credits
Isolated music and effects track
Fully illustrated booklet with extensive credits and newly commissioned essays


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 7:41 pm 
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Image Image


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 Post subject: Re: Ken Russell
PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 12:58 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:31 am
criterion10 wrote:
RossyG wrote:
Also, he regretted doing Valentino and disliked talking about it.

He certainly regretted it for quite a while, but there was a quote (can't seem to find it at the moment) by his last wife, Lisi Tribble, claiming after Russell saw the film again at its Lincoln Center screening in 2010, he considered it to be a masterpiece. (Russell seems to have often changed his mind on which personal films he liked/didn't like, even naming Song of Summer, The Devils, and The Music Lovers as his personal favorites, amongst others, at various different points in his life.)




I saw a screening of Lisztomania with one of Russell's sons in tow a while back. He said that prior to popping in the VHS (they didn't even have a laserdisc of it), the elder Russell said that they were about to watch his worst film. When it was finished, he did a 180 and said perhaps it was his finest. :wink:


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 1:02 pm 
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I've always loved this review of Lisztomania by one of the Independent's classical music critics - she absolutely got it in a way that people qualified to talk about Liszt and Wagner usually don't!

Quote:
We've become so terrified of taking risks that we're in danger of being hamstrung by timidity, going through life with a muzzle over our mouths and pens in case someone might choose to declare themselves "offended". We get intimidated – perniciously so.

Nobody can create great art without courage, and Russell had lakes of it. Liszt and Wagner, too, were never genteel artists; their art involved many human dilemmas, but it was never about being polite. That's why Lisztomania says more about the inner worlds of high romanticism than a month of prim, proper and sensible documentaries ever could.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2016 1:11 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:31 am
MichaelB wrote:
I've always loved this review of Lisztomania by one of the Independent's classical music critics - she absolutely got it in a way that people qualified to talk about Liszt and Wagner usually don't!

Quote:
We've become so terrified of taking risks that we're in danger of being hamstrung by timidity, going through life with a muzzle over our mouths and pens in case someone might choose to declare themselves "offended". We get intimidated – perniciously so.

Nobody can create great art without courage, and Russell had lakes of it. Liszt and Wagner, too, were never genteel artists; their art involved many human dilemmas, but it was never about being polite. That's why Lisztomania says more about the inner worlds of high romanticism than a month of prim, proper and sensible documentaries ever could.


That's a great review. I adore that film, too, and Russell's so-called "lesser" efforts like Crimes of Passion and the absolutely hilarious Whore


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:46 am 
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Full specs announced for Valentino:

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Valentino
A film by Ken Russell
Starring Rudolf Nureyev
With Seymour Cassel, Felicity Kendal, Leslie Caron, Michelle Phillips, Carole Kane

Controversial British director Ken Russell (Women in Love, The Devils) tells the story of one of the silver screen's greatest legends, Rudolph Valentino, in this flamboyant and sexually charged film. Made in 1977 and previously unavailable on Blu-ray, it will be released in a Dual Format Edition (contains both Blu-ray and DVD discs) by the BFI on 29 February 2016. The film is presented with numerous special features including an audio commentary, a new interview with cast member Dudley Sutton and other interviews.

Starring world-famous ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev alongside Seymour Cassel (Faces, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums), Felicity Kendal (The Good Life, Rosemary & Thyme), Leslie Caron (Gigi, An American in Paris), Michelle Phillips (Knots Landing, Forrest Gump) and Carole Kane (Annie Hall, Dog Day Afternoon), Valentino traces the adored silent film actor’s journey from humble beginnings as an Italian immigrant in New York, where he worked as a gigolo, to Hollywood, where he seduces famous lovers and ascends to stardom. Despite such towering success, tragedy beckons however, as Rudy falls prey the mass-hysteria of his audience, the blood-thirsty press and his own indulgent lifestyle.

Valentino is an enthralling biopic from one of Britain's most distinctive and celebrated filmmakers and is the first of three DVD/Blu-ray releases of Ken Russell films by the BFI this year, five years after his death in 2011. On 28 March, Ken Russell: The Great Composers (containing Elgar, The Debussy Film and Song of Summer) and Ken Russell: The Great Passions (containing Always on Sunday, Isadora and Dante’s Inferno) will be released in Dual Format Editions.

Special features
• Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
• Audio commentary with Tim Lucas
• Original TV spots and trailers
• Dudley Sutton Remembers Ken Russell and Filming Valentino (2016, 22 mins)
The Guardian Lecture: Ken Russell in conversation with Derek Malcolm (1987, 89 mins, audio with stills)
Lynn Seymour remembers Rudolf Nureyev (2003, 9 mins, audio with stills)
Tonight: Nureyev on Ken Russell and Valentino (1977, 10 mins)
• Stills and Special Collections gallery (2016, 10 mins)
The Funeral of Valentino (1926, 9 mins)
• Textless opening and closing credits
• Isolated music and effects track
• Illustrated booklet with extensive credits and newly commissioned essays

Product details
RRP: £19.99 / Cat. no. BFIB1234 / Cert 18

UK / 1977 / colour and black and white / English language, with optional hard-of-hearing subtitles / 128 mins / Original aspect ratio 1.85:1 / BD50: 1080p, 24fps, PCM stereo audio (48k/24-bit) / DVD9: PAL, Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (224kbps)


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 1:25 pm 
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Will this UK release use the same HD master than the US one ? (I suppose the French 2013 release was also using the same master, but maybe not)


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 1:39 pm 
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Almost certainly.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 2:16 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:31 am
I'm curious if co-writer Mardik Martin was approached for this disc. He still lectures at USC, I think.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2016 9:36 am 
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Some updates on the other two upcoming Ken Russell packages:

All six films have had brand new HD masters created specifically for these releases, and both Isadora Duncan and Song of Summer are being presented in longer versions than on previous video and DVD releases (BBC America for both, BFI DVD/VHS for Song of Summer). Isadora has had approx. 90 seconds of footage from Olympia restored, and while it proved impossible to clear the Laurel and Hardy footage that originally appeared at the start of Song of Summer, the BFI has substituted a British silent comedy of similar vintage (What Next?, from 1928), which has allowed the rest of the film's original opening (and, importantly, original voice-over) to be preserved intact.

Also, all six films have audio commentaries - four new, two by Ken Russell that were recorded for the old BFI DVD.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2016 2:00 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:19 pm
Sounds great. Just out of curiosity, what are the chances of any Russell shorts popping up as extras? Also, might we see more BFI releases of Russell films down the road (in terms of rights, I think Women in Love and The Music Lovers are the only ones that would be feasible).


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 25, 2016 2:04 pm 
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I haven't seen the full specs of the discs yet, so fingers are tightly crossed - I can certainly think of Monitor shorts that would play well on each volume, but third-party footage is a headache with some of them.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2016 9:13 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2012 4:19 pm
Amazon seems to have the final specs listed for the BBC sets:

Quote:
THE KEN RUSSELL COLLECTION: THE GREAT PASSIONS (Dual Format Edition)
Three films by Ken Russell


A Dual Format Edition collection bringing together the career defining work of Ken Russell at the BBC. Russell's work during the sixties for award-winning arts documentary series Monitor and Omnibus were critically-acclaimed and often seen as a high point in his filmmaking.

The collection opens with Always on Sunday (1965) a dramatized examination of the painter Henri Rousseau. The combination of Russell reuniting with Melvyn Bragg and Oliver Reed and Russell's infectious love of the film's subject results in a film which is illuminating in every frame. Isadora: The Biggest Dancer in the World (1966), a study of the outrageous American dancer, Isadora Duncan, starring Vivian Pickles as the dancer whose obsession with the importance of art and complete disdain for decorum chimes perfectly with Russell's own sensibility. Last of the TV dramas is Dante's Inferno (1967) which tells of the complex relationship between the 19th century artist and poet, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and his model Elizabeth Siddal.

The films in this collection have been remastered to High Definition, and are presented on Blu-ray for the very first time.

Special features
Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
Michael Bradsell Interview (2015, 18 mins): the film editor talks about working with Ken Russell
Late Night Line Up: Russell at Work (Ian Keill, 1966, 31 mins): documentary shot during the making of Isadora
Brian Hoyle audio commentary for Always on Sunday
Paul Sutton audio commentary for Isadora
Brian Hoyle audio commentary for Dante's Inferno
The Paul Sutton Tapes: alternative audio track to Isadora: comprising interviews which Paul Sutton conducted with the cast and crew between 2008 and 2012
Illustrated booklet featuring new essays by John Wyver, Kevin Jackson, Christophe Van Eecke, Brian Hoyle, Paul Sutton and Michael Brooke, and full credits

UK | 1965-1967 | black and white | English with optional hard-of-hearing subtitles | 198 minutes | original aspect ratio 1.33:1

1 x BD50: 1080, 50i, LPCM 2.0 audio (48kHz/16-bit) | 2 x DVD9: PAL, 25fps, Dolby Digital 2.0 audio (320kbps)


Quote:
THE KEN RUSSELL COLLECTION: THE GREAT COMPOSERS (Dual Format Edition)
Three films by Ken Russell


A Dual Format Edition collection bringing together the career defining work of Ken Russell at the BBC. Russell's work during the sixties for award-winning arts documentary series Monitor and Omnibus were critically-acclaimed and often seen as a high point in his filmmaking.

The first of the three films, Elgar (1962), portrays in vigorous style the life of the English composer Sir Edward Elgar, with Huw Wheldon narrating his life story over beautiful mountain scenery. The Debussy Film (1965), Russell's penultimate film for Monitor was an ambitious work about the composer's life, written by Melvyn Bragg and starring Oliver Reed as Claude Debussy. Song of Summer (1968) is generally regarded (not least by its director) as Russell's best television film with many critics citing it as his finest work in any medium. The story traces Eric Fenby and is based on his memoirs of trying to help the blind and paralysed composer Frederick Delius.

The films in this collection have been remastered to High Definition, and are presented on Blu-ray for the very first time

Special features
Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
Michael Bradsell Interview (2015, 10 mins): the film editor talks about working with Ken Russell
Land of Hope and Glory (1931, 3 mins): footage of Sir Edward Elgar conducting the LSO at the opening of the new HMV Studios (now Abbey Road Studios)
Elgar and the Three Choirs Festival (Harold Brooke, 1929-1932, 9 mins): amateur footage of Elgar at home and at the Three Choirs Festival
Ken Russell and Michael Kennedy audio commentary for Elgar (2002)
Newly commissioned commentary by Kevin Flanagan for The Debussy Film
Ken Russell audio commentary for Song of Summer (2002)
Illustrated booklet featuring new essays by Kevin Flanagan, John Hill, John C Tibbetts, Paul Sutton and Michael Brooke, and full credits

UK | 1962-1968 | black and white | English language, with optional hard-of-hearing subtitles | 211 minutes | original aspect ratio 1.33:1


Disappointing that none of Russell's other shorts could be included (I would love to see yet another box set further down the road), but the special features themselves are really stellar. Never imagined the BFI managing to pile together as much as they did (the same goes for Valentino).


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