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 (10) | 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.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

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

May 9, 2005 | Rating: 2/4

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

October 23, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

[Ken] Russell, without resorting to stomach-churning violence or mindboggling camera trickery, has proven himself a true master of cinematic vitality and versatility.

January 3, 2020 | Full Review…

It's the sort of grade B melodrama that John Barrymore would have played heavily, hammily and stoned in his twilight years.

October 9, 2019 | Full Review…

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.

January 21, 2004 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Savage Messiah


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

marvelous, full of passion and romance at a breakneck pace, it's a great deal of fun and ultimately very moving. also contains what i would guess is one of helen mirren's earliest naked performances. RIP ken russell, enfant terrible.

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

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