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Thursday 29 June 2017

Tributes to 'unique' Ken Russell

Tributes have been paid to filmmaker Ken Russell, who has died at the age of 84
Tributes have been paid to filmmaker Ken Russell, who has died at the age of 84

Tributes have been paid to the "unique" talent of British film director Ken Russell, following his sudden death at the age of 84.

The director of Women In Love and The Devils "passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday afternoon", his devastated wife Elize said.

The Oscar-nominated film-maker, who began his career in television, had a reputation as an enfant terrible of the British movie world. Women In Love (1969) is known to a generation for its nude male wrestling scene, with Oliver Reed and Alan Bates.

Glenda Jackson, who won a best actress Oscar for her role in the film, said it was a "privilege" to know Russell as both a film director and a friend. She said Russell had an "incredible visual genius" when it came to film-making.

The maverick film-maker was known for his uncomfortable stories about the church and for using sexually challenging material.

Film director Michael Winner said Russell would be best remembered for 1971 movie The Devils, starring Vanessa Redgrave. "What the censor took out of The Devils was almost as long as the rest of the movie," he said.

Russell's widow Elize said she was "devastated" by her husband's death, which happened at their home in Lymington, Hampshire. She said: "It is with great sadness that I can confirm that Ken Russell passed away peacefully in his sleep on Sunday afternoon," she said.

Russell's son, Alex Verney-Elliott, said his father died following a series of strokes.

"My father died peacefully," he said. "He died with a smile on his face."

Pete Townshend, who wrote The Who's rock opera Tommy, which Russell later adapted into a musical film, said: "Ken was a joy. I adored and respected Ken because he believed all artistic work could be made to come alive over and over again."

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