I remember him on a camera crane in kaftan and sandals shouting to us through a megaphone: ‘Even greater heights of abandon!” - Paul McGann, on working with Ken Russell.
So Uncle Ken has left us. Never again will he paint his magic across the silver screen. Never again will he cause conservative film financiers to break out in a cold sweat. Never will we see a feature-length version of 'A Kitten for Hitler'. Why does this feel like one of those times he walked out halfway through a Q&A session with Mark Kermode? Only this time we know he's not coming back.
He changed forever the meaning of the phrase 'a British picture'. He showed it could be as fanciful as Fellini, as romantic as any Hollywood classic and as spiritually uplifting as The Who. He was once, ludicrously, accused of 'suffering from excessive vision'. Poppycock. He had the best and the brightest, the clearest vision of all. His genius was his ability to infuse a powerful, deeply human virility and beauty into areas too often portrayed in ways dry and portentous. In a Ken Russell movie, Pete Townshend and Gustav Mahler rock equally and Ringo Starr is the Pope.