Apart from his often notorious feature films, Ken Russell is a master of the arts documentary. In this film he uses the nine symphonies of English composer Ralph (pronounced 'Rafe', please) Vaughan Williams as the framework for a very moving and original biography.
Vaughan Williams had a long life (1872-1958). His symphonies were written over half-a-century and reflect a lifetime of experience (including driving an ambulance in World War One). While the symphonies form the core of the film, Russell does manage to look at the whole of the composer's output. The film is also helped by the contribution of Ursula Vaughan Williams, the composer's widow.
The process of making the film itself forms part of the documentary and Russell manages a sly dig at critics of his flamboyantly visual film-making style. Following a beautifully composed shot of a beach a member of the crew asks Russell about its symbolic meaning. Looking startled the great director mutters: "I'll tell you later."
11 of 11 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this