Tuesday, January 19, 2010

1970 - DANCE OF THE SEVEN VEILS, Ken Russell's goofy quasi biography on Richard Strauss

Over the top and over just about everything, director Ken Russell made his reputation with a series of biographies on the lives of great composers for the BBC.  Russell a filmmaker with an outlandish visual sense to put it mildly became enough of a success that he was able to indulge himself even more with each film.  He finally hit the peak or rock bottom if you will, with this little gem that came out in 1970.

Dance of the Seven Veils is apparently an interpretative version on the life story of composer Richard Strauss who actually lived in Germany during the Nazi years and apparently walked a careful line between collaborating and avoiding the Nazi's.

Russell gets to indulge himself yet again with one of his favorite visual themes, crazy nuns withering
around in some sort of  psychotic frenzy.

No one would ever argue that Russell didn't have an eye for an interesting camera angle or crazy effect.  I did enjoy the scene where the trombone section crushed all of Strauss's critics and stabbed them with their slides.

OK, Ken Russell wasn't really interested in making a biography on Richard Strauss, he just wanted somebody to finance his silly film so he could provoke and outrage the BBC television audience.  It's all stupid stuff and 1 hour of it was plenty.

Understandably the Strauss family was not very amused with this portrait of Daddy Strauss and the film hasn't seen the light of day until it showed up as a work print on You Tube in 6 parts. 

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