Ken Russell, Director Fond of Provocation, Dies at 84


Ken Russell, the English filmmaker and writer whose outsize personality matched the confrontational brashness of his movies, among them “Women in Love” and “The Devils,” died on Sunday at his home in Lymington, England. He was 84.

His death was confirmed by a spokesman, Shade Rupe.

A polarizing figure who delighted in breaching the limits of propriety and cinematic good taste, Mr. Russell courted controversy through much of his career. “Women in Love,” a 1969 adaptation of the D. H. Lawrence novel, was his breakthrough film, and “The Devils” (1971), about a 17th-century outbreak of religious hysteria, was his most notorious. Both caused run-ins with censors.

The flamboyance and intemperance of his movies were all the more notable coming at a time when British cinema and television were still largely known for the kitchen-sink style of social realism. In the 1970s, his most active decade as a feature film director, he made a series of biographical films about artists and rock operas, like his adaptation of the Who’s “Tommy,” which were admired by some for their delirious excesses and dismissed by others as vulgar kitsch....

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