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13-Nov-2017 01:17

" The sequence has all the carefree esprit of a Benny Hill skit.

No censorship dilemma here, of course, but Russell's rather poor anachronistic joke most likely added fuel to the BBFC's contention that this was simply an irresponsibly bad film that would cause a legal ruckus if released as is.

would not allow for inclusion on BFI's release.

With the passage of over forty years — and the reasonable assumption that these scenes would not, at this late date, scorch a reasonable person's eyeballs — the whys and wherefores of Warners' timidity are difficult to understand.

While shooting the film and over the years, Russell, who died in November 2011 at 84, insisted that he was very serious in his film adaptation of Aldous Huxley's 1952 book But when the film premiered first in the UK in a censored cut authorized reluctantly by Russell, and then in a more heavily cut version in the US, few people, especially critics, were disinclined to accept the film as anything more than sensationalist or — even worse — dastardly conceived, pornographic garbage. Since its theatrical run, it's not been easy to take a fresh look at the film.

Partly, I think, the bad boy in Russell always enjoyed deliberately taunting the unimaginative or conservative viewer.Somewhere in the middle of the X-rated version, we witness a royal garden party, in which Louis XIII, while in conference with Richelieu and armed with pistols, seems to be engaged in some sort of target practice.But his targets turn out to be a number of hapless Huguenots dressed in Muppet-like blackbird costumes, complete with oversized yellow Big Bird beaks.Released from cages, they flap their feathered arms until Louis aims his pistol and nails each Protestant in the back.

As one falls lifeless into a pond, the King, in close-up, faces the movie audience and chortles, "Bye-bye blackbird!Besides shattering the narrative frame with numerous anachronisms in , Russell more than once inserts a sequence of deliberate, low-down burlesque that appears to undercut the seriousness of the drama.