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Ken Russell: The Great Composers (Blu-ray+DVD) BFI


A Dual Format Edition collection bringing together the career-defining work of Ken Russell at the BBC. Russell’s work during the sixties for award-winning arts documentary series’ Monitor and Omnibus was critically-acclaimed and often seen as a high point in his filmmaking.

The first of the three films, Elgar (1962), portrays in vigorous style the life of the English composer Sir Edward Elgar, with Huw Wheldon narrating his life story over beautiful mountain scenery.

The Debussy Film (1965), Russell’s penultimate film for Monitor, was an ambitious work about the composer’s life, written by Melvyn Bragg and starring Oliver Reed as Claude Debussy.

Delius: Song of Summer (1968) is generally regarded (not least by its director) as Russell’s best television film – with many critics citing it as his finest work in any medium. The story traces the life of Eric Fenby and is based on his memoirs of being amanuensis to the blind and paralysed composer Frederick Delius.

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Special Features

Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition
Michael Bradsell Interview (2015, 10 mins): the film editor talks about working with Ken Russell
Land of Hope and Glory (1931, 3 mins): footage of Sir Edward Elgar conducting the LSO at the opening of the new HMV Studios (now Abbey Road Studios)
Elgar and the Three Choirs Festival (Harold Brooke, 1929-1932, 9 mins): amateur footage of Elgar at home and at the Three Choirs Festival
Ken Russell and Michael Kennedy audio commentary for Elgar (2002)
Newly commissioned commentary by Kevin Flanagan for The Debussy Film
Ken Russell audio commentary for Song of Summer (2002)
Illustrated booklet featuring new essays by Kevin Flanagan, John Hill, John C Tibbetts, Paul Sutton and Michael Brooke, and full credits


Bluray, DVD