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Delius - Song Of Summer [DVD] [1968]

Max Adrian , Maureen Pryor , Ken Russell    Parental Guidance   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Actors: Max Adrian, Maureen Pryor, Christopher Gable, David Collings, Geraldine Sherman
  • Directors: Ken Russell
  • Writers: Ken Russell, Eric Fenby
  • Producers: Ken Russell
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Bfi
  • DVD Release Date: 10 April 2003
  • Run Time: 72 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005N9FK
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 79,489 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Product Description

Ken Russell's celebrated BBC adaptation of Eric Fenby's biographical memoir on the life of composer Frederick Delius. 'Song of Summer' tells the story of Delius's (Max Adrian) twilight years, when he was aided by the devoted Fenby (Christopher Gable) in the completion of his final, unfinished scores.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
102 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Song of Summer released at Last 23 Sep 2001
After over thirty years, Ken Russell's exquisite portrait of the last years of Frederick Delius is available for sale. Those of us who taped the original 1968 production will remember the opening moments in which the young Fenby accompanied a silent Laurel and Hardy film - a rude awakening to a moving production whose other music is exclusively by Delius himself. The Laurel and Hardy copyright prevented the earlier commercial release of this production; here the problem is solved by omitting it entirely. The action therefore begins with the next scene, idyllically by the sea, north of Scarborough, as Fenby (played by the late Christopher Gable) notes down the sounds of nature. The rest of the film is presented uncut. It is a moving work of genius, which Russell claims to be his greatest creation.
The DVD includes a brief printed biography of Russell and a full-length spoken director's commentary. The latter is particularly enlightening, commenting not only on how the film and its individual scenes came to be made, but also on Russell's relationship with Eric Fenby - who provided the main source of material from his book 'Delius as I knew him' - and with the three main actors, Max Adrian as Delius, Maureen Prior as his wife and Christopher Gable as the young Fenby. As Russell confirms in his commentary, Fenby felt that it was absolutely true to character. Eric Fenby was renowned in his later life, as was Delius, for the plain-speaking that is characteristic of Yorkshiremen. I was privileged to know him personally and can confirm his admiration of how Max Adrian followed his suggestions to act precisely like Delius.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
And its not so very short so it's a very strong contender for the greatest British film. Yes I know it's up against Michael Powell, and Carol Reed and Lean's Great Expectations and Oliver Twist but they do all seem a bit dated now and this doesn't, nor will it. Moreover against Powell and Reid it has the advantage of the subject matter.
Of course it's always been a heresy in the aesthetics of modern art to give weight to the subject matter, but I don't care. I resent having to waste admiration on some brilliant treatment of distasteful, trivial, marginal, or soon just part of history, subject matter. And to hell with film history. Lets just take the subject matter seriously into account for once as well as the treatment - because, don't misunderstand me, the treatment here is every bit in the 'arthouse' style. Russell could do it when he wanted to.
To tell the truth the only reason I don't make the outright claim for this being the best British film (despite it being made for television on a small budget in case you didn't know) is that I make that claim for Russell's 'The Music Lovers' a film on the same sort of subject but in an entirely different style. Whereas this is naturalistic the Tchaikovsky film is expressionistic and stylised in a way not very far removed from Powell's work.
This is of course a film about a great composer and his music, and for that reason, as the music combines with the lyrical/naturalistic texture of the film itself, there is more than usual reason to return to it for further viewings.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very moving piece of work, and quite beautiful 3 Sep 2003
I bought this on a bit of a whim...many of BFI's dvds have been works of clever people/ geni and this is one of them. A knowledge of the works of Delius are not required; the film explains itself quite beautifully and is acted out with exquisite taste. The end was most tastefully done (get a tissue ready) and this is a dvd to treasure. I cannot recommend this highly enough. But I shall try to. GO ON... BUY THIS!!!!!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SONG OF DELIUS 2 Dec 2009
There are several lyrical reviews here, which sum up this remarkable film. I had known of its existence, and seen little extracts from time to time, but never seen the whole thing until a few days ago. It is, quite simply, spellbinding.

(You do not have to be a fan of Delius or his music music to realise what a remarkable character study this is.)

This is probably Ken Russell's masterpiece (though film historians will no doubt argue this one back and forth) and quite possibly the work for which the excellent cast would wish to be remembered.

A great bonus is the director's commentary, which is joyously unselfconscious, and I only wish we could have seen Russell as well.

All in all, the BFI must be congratulated (again) for giving us this treasure on dvd. If you don't know it, go and get it. It's money very well spent.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ken Russell's art 26 Jan 2012
Ken Russell's genius for mood was in full flower here. Who cares that filming didn't take place
at the composer's actual house (which was Balfour-Gardiner's by the way) - the chosen venue was probably of a
similar enough order for the story. But the main heart of the film was surely in the casting and in particular of Max Adrian,
who performed a magnificent tour de force in impatience and irritability. A nice contrast too that this very frail, irascible
and apparently pain wracked old man, far from being gently helped around the place in wheelchairs and the like,
was hoisted around bodily and oh so normally over someone's shoulder every time.
We are not told how much the factual content has been 'breathed on' but the priest caught in church
getting up to something none too pious, or the rather spooky neighbour from Smallhythe putting in her bit of mischief,
suggests that embellishment could well have been on the cards. Though it's a pity that the incongruous
Laurel and Hardy opening sequence was deleted from later issues (copyright issues again) where Fenby was seen
accompanying the duo's dance episode to the most ghastly and depressing theatre organ music
you ever heard, the audience laughing away unaffected. Artist Russell's own input here, methinks!
As was the sumptuous maid Pauline (Elizabeth Ercy), on site in a remote place like that? Fenby's first
misgivings on arrival surely should have evaporated once he had caught sight of her!
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