Director: Ken Russell
The earliest example of Russell's composer portrait work is a fascinating biography of Sergei Prokofiev which utilise stock footage from Soviet propagand newsreels, stills and live action shots of hands playing at a piano. The BBC then strict policy (soon to be challenged by Russell in his Elgar) of not permitting actors to portray living persons presented a creative challenge.
"The paradox of Russell's work lies in the combination of dazzling visual imagination and wilful, snook-cocking vulgarity the inspired crystallisation of a musical mood or literary style countered by over the top shock-tactics; genuine poetry anc clodhopping crassness... allied to a non-naturalistic interpretation of facts. His early BBC documentaries... remain gems, both factual and impressionistic. Alan Bennett's TV sketches on Life and Times in NW1 conferred the ultimate accolade, depicting a trendy Hampstead husband absenting himself from his wife's childbirth in favour of 'the new Ken Russell on the box tonight '—Time Out
"I'm setting out to tell the story of a child of the Revolution who fell out of favour with Stalin because he refused to turn out muzak glorifying the USSR. At the same time it's about the responsibility of the artist to the public."—Ken Russell