Ken Russell, one of Britain’s best known film-makers and something of a cultural force in his own right, has died at the age of 84. He is reported to have died in his sleep over the weekend.
Still best known for the Oscar-winning Women in Love (1969), Russell was one of the most flamboyant and colourful British film-makers of the 20th century. In the late 60s and 70s, his lurid sensibility was for many a welcome antidote to the kitchen sink, realist aesthetic that had gone before it.
Some of his films caused considerable controversy. The Devils (1971), which featured Oliver Reed and Venessa Redgrave sexualising the crucifixion, is only to be fully released in its original intended form in 2012, more than 40 years after it was made.
Russell continued to surprise as he got older. In 2007 he spent time in the Celebrity Big Brother house, becoming a popular figure until he quit following a disagreement with fellow contestant Jade Goody. He had spent his later years teaching at film schools while trying to raise money for various projects.