Savage Messiah (1972) - Rotten Tomatoes

Savage Messiah (1972)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Savage Messiah Photos

Movie Info

Based on the book of the same name by H.S. Ede, eccentric director Ken Russell created this biographical drama of a great early 20th century artist who died tragically young. Henri Gaudier (Scott Anthony) is only 18 years old, a self-taught Parisian sculptor of enormous talent but prone to rash, exuberant behavior. Henri meets and begins a platonic but emotionally intense relationship with Sophie Brzeksa (Dorothy Tutin), a cultured Polish woman 20 years his senior. The relationship between Henri and Sophie remains inspired and impassioned, if not sexual, and her air of intelligent refinement positively impacts his life and work. Eventually, the couple moves to London, where Henri takes his partner's last name, and his star rises in the art world as the chief proponent of Vorticism, an offshoot of Cubism and Futurism. In real life, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska was a signer of the Vorticist Manifesto and a founder of The London School along with his patron, Ezra Pound, but his genius was not recognized until after his death. Gaudier-Brzeska was killed at the age of only 24 in WWI, a French Army hero who had been twice promoted for bravery. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

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Dorothy Tutin
as Sophie Brzeska
Scott Antony
as Henri Gaudier-Brzeska
Helen Mirren
as Gosh Smith-Boyle
Lindsay Kemp
as Angus Corky
Michael Gough
as Mons. Gaudier
John Justin
as Lionel Shaw
Peter Vaughan
as Louvre Attendant
Eleanor Fazan
as Mme. Gaudier
Robert Lang
as Maj. Boyle
Imogen Claire
as Mavis Coldstream
Ben Aris
as Thomas Buff
Otto Diamant
as Mr. Saltzman
Paul McDowell
as Agitator
Henry Woolf
as Gendarme
Alexei Jawdokimov
as Library Student
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Critic Reviews for Savage Messiah

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (3)

Henri's interesting relationship with the ageing authoress Sophie Brzeska is lost in the director's overriding credo that both art and films are a matter of how much energy you exert.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Russell takes the mystique away from art, but supplies nothing much in its place.

Full Review… | May 9, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

You get to like Henri and Sophia, maybe more than they like themselves.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

It's 'the Ken Russell movie for people who don't like Ken Russell movies,' but the truth is that it's also the film for those who not only like, but love Ken Russell movies.

Full Review… | January 21, 2004
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

One of Russell's less successful art movies, still over-the-top in his trademark style, but not jaw-droppingly so.

Full Review… | May 24, 2003

Audience Reviews for Savage Messiah

A movie about the pure joy and creativity that built the relationship between Gaudier and Brzeksa. Ken Russell, as he is known to do, doesn't stop to dwell on the mental health issues or the bizarre circumstances of the two, he simply celebrates the work. Instead of dissecting them under a microscope, he puts them under a magnifying glass and illuminates the passions that drove these two artists to keep on living as they did. In lieu of the fantastic sets and bizarre camera angles, Russell delivers huge fantastical emotion and injects it right into your heart. In this way, it's one of his more straight forward and sweet movies, simply about two bizarre people who found each other at a moment in time.

Jenna Ipcar
Jenna Ipcar

Coherent Ken Russell film is not as odd as some of his other offerings; the story is absorbing and the performances are fine.

Michael Troudt
Michael Troudt

A lovely, entertaining film that only has occasional flashes of the baroque extravagance that later became Ken Russell's trademark. The actors spend most of the film shouting, but it seems to be faithful to the story (artistic temperaments, you know). According to the IMDB, the lead actor only appeared in four films (one of them made for British television). Interesting. And strange how obscure this film is today -- not even available on DVD? On the smutty side, the film boasts the phenomenally sexy hips of the young Helen Mirren (in full-frontal glory) and a director of photography named Dick Bush.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

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