Ken Russell was one of the more quirky directors in British Cinema – while his recent works have been ordinary, there was a time when he was making rather interesting films. I’m therefore moving backwards with his filmography, starting with his 1989 drama “The Rainbow”, which I consider to be his last significant film.
Based on a DH Lawrence novel, “The Rainbow” follows the trials and tribulations of a young lady in early twentieth century England. Even as a precocious child, Ursula had always wanted what isn’t possible, like asking her dad for the rainbow one day – and the rainbow remains the constant metaphor through the film. As an adolescent, she catches the attention of her gym teacher Winifred, who becomes Ursula’s first love. She does fall in love with a soldier however, and they even get engaged, but soon decides against marriage. Deep down, she hates the idea of leading a conventional life like her mother – instead, she finds contentment by chasing her own rainbow.
Ken Russell’s made a fine film from a fine novel. The cinematography is excellent, beautifully capturing the picture-postcard English countryside, and the art direction is superb. You also have Russell’s trademark edits and surreal moments – one of which is included in my compilation. The other surreal scene is of Ursula being chased by horses through the countryside. For an introduction to Ken Russell, this is definitely Recommended Viewing.