1. (n.) The state or quality of being independent; freedom from dependence; exemption from reliance on, or control by, others; self-subsistence or maintenance; direction of one’s own affairs without interference.
2. (n.) Sufficient means for a comfortable livelihood.
Happy Birthday Ken Russell.
Few British directors have been as successful or as controversial as Ken Russell.
With the exception of Rainer Werner Fassbinder, few directors have managed to produce a body of work that has appealed to mass audiences across such diverse genres as science-fiction (‘Altered States‘), espionage (‘The Billion Dollar Brain‘), musicals (‘The Boyfriend‘,’Tommy‘, ‘Listzomania‘), biography (‘The Music Lovers‘, ‘Savage Messiah‘, ‘Mahler‘, ‘Valentino‘), drama (‘Whore‘), comedy (‘French Dressing‘), horror (‘Lair of the White Worm‘, ‘Gothic‘), historical drama (‘The Devils‘), and literary (‘Women in Love‘, ‘The Rainbow‘, ‘Salome’s Last Dance‘).
Like the greatest of cinematic auteurs, Russell has created his own distinctive visual language that makes his work instantly recognisable, unforgettable and artistically important.
If this weren’t enough, Russell produced an outstanding body of television films, which has yet to be equalled for their intelligence (‘Delius – The Song of Summer‘), artistry (‘The Debussy Film‘) and controversy (‘Dance of the Seven Veils‘). Indeed it was Russell who devised the bio-pic or drama doc with his BBC film ‘Elgar‘, a form that has been relentlessly copied since.
Today Russell turns 83, and as we wish him a very Happy Birthday, we hope that he is encouraged and supported to produce more of his wonderful, inspiring and idiosyncratic films.
John Hersey died on the 24th May 1993.
Hersey wrote the most influential piece of journalism to come out of the Second World War – ‘Hiroshima‘.
‘Hiroshima’ examined the experiences of six people who survived the atomic bomb on August 6, 1945. The immensity of these events, on some faraway shore, would have gently diminished without Hersey’s writing.
All too aware that: “The important ‘flashes’ and ‘bulletins’ are already forgotten by the time yesterday morning’s paper is used to line the trash can. The things we remember for longer periods are emotions and impressions and illusions and images and characters: the elements of fiction.”
Hersey mixed fictional techniques with journalistic narrative, to create a new form of journalism, that was to influence the likes of Lillian Ross, Norman Mailer, Truman Capote and Tom Wolfe.
But more importantly, Hersey’s ‘Hiroshima‘ was a stark warning that some humans now had the potential to destroy our world, a thought that has countered all human existence since.