2012 Film Challenge #4 - Women In Love

They're currently doing a big old tribute to the oeuvre of Ken Russell over at Mounds & Circles. It's coming across as a lot more learned, charming and, let's face it, sexier than I could ever hope to be. But no matter. I was never in a position to steal their thunder, so here we go.

Women in Love was preceded by an affectionate documentary on The Man Himself which proclaimed him to have exactly the sort of restlessly creative impish nature I cherish in so many. Clearly, I need to explore his work in much greater depth.

Now, I've already seen Tommy and The Devils. Women in Love completes the triptych necessary for me to start taking a film-maker very seriously indeed.

But is it wise to take Ken Russell at all seriously? For clearly, as his career progressed, he began to take himself less and less so.

Yet it's impossible to not take seriously something that moves you in so deep and profound a way, surely?

D.H Lawrence seemed to be very concerned about the struggles of the human spirit against the stifling influence of industry, progress and technology. In Women in Love, Mr. Russell demonstrates this struggle in so subtle and elegant a manner that already I feel that any cry of “genius” is more than justified.

The scene everyone will always think of when considering this film is that in which Oliver Reed and Alan Bates grapple naked in a desperate attempt to find something tangible in their muffled, claustrophobic world. Lit almost entirely by the glow of the fireplace, the scene has a visceral sensual feel which I found transcended any and all homoerotic giggles that may have transpired.

Afterwards, glistening with sweat, they were finally feeling. Finally living rather than existing. But what does Mr. Reed go and do? He switches the light on. Suddenly the entire scene is bathed in cold, harsh, unfeeling electricity. The humanity has been eclipsed by technology – literally at the flick of the switch.

This is nothing short of cinematic poetry, and such flourishes were all over the shop. The term “visual feast” was surely coined to describe films such as this.

Add to this the fact that most of it was filmed in and around Belper – where we're moving in about nine days! - and you're onto a film with such weight and gravity that I can already feel a new obsession growing.

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