The American Cinematheque
(1328 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, Sunday August 22, 2010, 7:30 pm)
The American Cinematheque featured August 20 - 22, 2010,
at the Egyptian Theatre and at the Aero Theatre, a retrospective of Russell's works,
"the most memorable and weird films in modern times."
The programme included "The Devils", "Altered States", "Tommy", "Lisztomania",
"The Music Lovers" and "Women in Love".
Ken Russell attended some of the showings and the ensuing
Richard Chamberlain joined Ken Russell, at the invitation of the American
Cinematheque and BAFTA-LA, at the Aero Theatre for a showing of "The Music Lovers"
and "Women in love" and a Q/A session between films.
Photography by Francisco Arcaute
Photography by Francisco Arcaute
Photography by Gregory
A short comment by Jason Marshall on the Russell tribute
at the American Cinematheque
As far as my own movie viewing this week, the only really fun thing has been a
Ken Russell tribute over the past weekend at the American Cinemateque in Santa Monica and Hollywood. I had to skip the double bill of Tommy and Lisztomania Saturday night,
but I made it Friday’s showing of “The Devils” and “Altered States” and Sundays showing
of “The Music Lovers” and “Women in Love.” It was the first time I got to see “The Devils” and my reaction is somewhat ambiguous. I think it’s probably a couple of steps from
being a great movie, but I’ll need some time and some more viewings to really know.
But Ken Russell was at the screenings and did a Q&A between pictures — well, he went through the motions of doing a Q&A. Here’s a tip Ken: If you don’t like talking about
your movies or the process of making them, don’t go to these events. He was a bit more talkative after “The Music Lovers” with Richard Chamberlain to help him out. Despite
his vague answers, it was still a treat to see him, especially responding to Chamberlain talking about working with him.
Ken Russell & Dr. Kildare
Photography by Gregory Weinkauf
There was something tremendously touching about watching Richard Chamberlain
© 2010 arts•meme
seated next to wild man director Ken Russell following a screening of the octogenarian’s
exuberant Tchaikovsky biopic, “The Music Lovers” (1970), Sunday night.
And also fitting that the usual post-screening Q&A set-up was reversed, so that the white-haired cinema maestro sat not before his audience on a stage, but among them, in the seats at the top of the house. This forced an arrangement in which cinefiles, dazzled by
the exuberant color film that had just splashed the Aero’s football-field-sized screen,
paid homage to Russell from below, as beseeching courtiers. Words like “radical,” “influential,” and “groundbreaking” got attached to Russell’s slew of
The feisty, rotund Russell seemed to enjoy his royal roost; he’s a Brit after all.
Piercing any pomposity with flattening sarcasm, he sputtered in response to some
blather about movie-making being a “collaborative process.”
“It is?” Russell nearly howled.
“No one told me that! I did everything!"
As for Richard Chamberlain, who delivered miracles as the tortured genius composer (and what a career, from Dr. Kildare to basically coming out of the closet through the surrogate role of Tchaikovsky), is there a lovelier or more gentlemanly movie actor?
Still looking terrific while posing patiently for photos — including this one for
arts•meme — Chamberlain noted that he just finished shooting a film in New York.
Said Chamberlain: “Ken creates a feeling on the set that is very intense. He’s a little scary. He’s dripping with passion.” Playing the role, he remembered, “I was scared, really scared. I was frightened by Tchaikovsky, but Glenda’s [Jackson, his co-star] riches
never ceased to surprise me.”
He admitted: “I was a gay man in the closet. I was hiding it at that time. I suppose
it did flavor what I did in the film because he [Tchaikovsky] was really in agony.”
“After the film was released, a Russian approached me and asked ‘How could you?’”
[i.e. depict Tchaikovsky as a gay man].
Modestly explaining his exceptionally emotional performance, which includes realistic pounding of keyboards in a gorgeously filmed concert-hall sequence, Chamberlain said, “It’s all Tchaikovsky. I went for Tchaikovsky all the way.”
The 83-year old British director recently attended a very
successful weeklong retrospective of his films at the
Lincoln Centre in New York.
Within the framework of a "Tribute to Richard Chamberlain",
the American Cinematheque featured "The Music Lovers" last
May 1st. During the discussion Richard Chamberlain made the
following comment: “Ken was an incredibly charming person outside
of the studio. But on the set, he was like a crocodile,
like a dragon; he was very, very intense – a little bit scary,
and he created a kind of atmosphere on set that was really
wonderful for the actors, in the sense that you thought,
something important is going to be happening here."
To know more about the "Tribute to Richard Chamberlain", click here
Watch the famous piano scene in "The Music Lovers"
"The Music Lovers" is available on DVD here
and on tape here