My book is about sleep; that thick oily substance. Under the surface you float half dreaming, half waking. Hidden you hope, yet the world comes though. You cannot imagine the ways I've evolved to abolish myself there... under the surface. Half sleeping. Half Waking. Leaving your worries and your clothes asleep. But the rent never sleeps and time never sleeps.
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Savage Messiah is perhaps the least famous of Ken Russell's biopics from the early-to-mid 70s. He made films about Tchaikovsky (The Music Lovers), Lizst (Lizstomania), and Mahler (Mahler) during this period, and in this offering his subject is the French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. Gaudier-Brzeska, though not a household name, is certainly an interesting character and this film is a worthwhile experience for anyone who wants to find out more about him, or anyone who has an interest in his career.
It is, however, typically erratic and in-your-face, as most of Russell's pictures are. There's sex and nudity, lots of bitter and angry dialogue, and heaps of soul searching. In real life, Gaudier-Brzeska married a Polish noblewoman twenty years his senior and was tragically killed during WW1. Russell revels in exploring the complexity of their relationship, but he makes little of Gaudier-Brzeska's wartime experiences (which in actual fact might have been well worth showing in more detail).
I like this film because it is fast-paced, unconventional and witty. Having said that, I wouldn't put it in my list of all time favourites because it lacks warmth and narrative clarity. It's not as intense as Russell's The Devils, but it stands alongside that film of one of his better motion pictures.
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