I have uploaded some clips from the two long lost Ken Russell films on ROMANTIC POETS Coleridge and Wordsworth on youtube…somewhat reluctantly, having hoped to see a clip myself for so many years and now ironically I am doing it! Below are some detailed stills from the first 15 mins of the film. If wanted by any readers of this blog/zine, I may do similar stills of the rest of the film and upload a soundtrack. Due to its scarcity and copyright issues I am reluctant to load the bad quality version I have obtained from a collector in Australia.
Each of these two films in the series are sublime and have been lost to us for decades.
THESE WERE FILMED AND WRITTEN IN 1978 BY MELVYN BRAGG AND KEN RUSSELL AND WERE SHOWN IN 1978 ON ITV AND HAVE HAD RARE FESTIVAL SHOWINGS IN THE YEARS SINCE. THEY WERE SHOWN IN THE 80’S ON CBS IN THE USA AND CHANNEL 9 IN AUSTRALIA. NEITHER FILM IN THE SERIES HAVE BEEN RELEASED ON DVD, NOR CAN THEY BE FOUND ON YOUTUBE. THERE WAS NEVER A VHS VIDEO RELEASE IN THE 80’S OR 90’S – THE REASON IS DUE TO A COPYRIGHT PROBLEM WITH THE VAUGHAN WILLIAMS AND BRITTEN SOUNDTRACK. IT IS A TRAGEDY THAT POSSIBLY THE BEST EVER DRAMATIZATION OF COLERIDGE AND WORDSWORTH SHOULD BE LOST TO US OVER A TECHNICALITY. BOX SETS OF SOUTH BANK SHOW SPECIALS HAVE BEEN RELEASED ALONG WITH KEN RUSSELL RETROSPECTIVES YET STILL THIS IS HIDDEN AWAY AND UNSEEN…
THE CAST INCLUDED,
DAVID HEMMINGS AS COLERIDGE
DAVID WARNER AS WORDSWORTH
FELICITY KENDAL AND DOROTHY
It is available from the Granada archive for educational institutions/festivals for a fee. The BFI also allow viewings on their premises for a fee also – but you have to be a journalist. It is also available from Films media group in the USA for US citizens for a few hundred dollars – again for educational purposes. However, should you wish to spend hundreds of dollars I am sure they would bend the rules as long as you only show the film (s) privately. Here they are…http://cambridgeol.com/
It is a real gem but will or would cause outrage amongst some Coleridgeans I am sure. This is Ken Russell after all and he thrived on outrage! But actually it is visually sumptuous and also pretty tasteful for a Ken Russell project…Russell is one of those film makers who was very patchy but when he made a great film it was better than other more consistent film makers. Rime and clouds are both surprisingly restrained but of course being Russell there has to be a focus on Coleridge’s Opium, hence the rather garish title, and with Wordsworth perhaps a slightly off the wall interpretation of Dorothy and William’s closeness – however as I haven’t seen the Wordsworth film I cannot really know. Certainly the Coleridge film is pretty accurate and is sumptuous visually – what is interesting is the parallels Russell and Bragg try to imply between Coleridge’s life and the Mariner. He shoots his wife with the crossbow for example. However you feel it is symbolism in a dream type sequence and despite sounding ridiculous, it does work surprisingly well. The casting is superb. Hemmings really does seem a good choice. I am pleased it was filmed because for me the 70’s were a heyday of TV drama never surpassed. Sadly a third film about Southey was never filmed due to lack of funds.
Its sad to think Russell ended up doing youtube projects with students at the end. Ironic that Clouds of Glory should find a partial home there.
As a former volunteer at the home of Coleridge in Nether Stowey, in Somerset, where Ancient Mariner was written, it is thrilling to see these clips as I have been searching without success for decades to find these two Russell/Bragg films.
Ironic to say – but copyright infringement is not intended and if this is a violation it will be removed immediately. This is purely to promote interest to get the film (s) released 36 years on!