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The Devils

Related: Urbain Grandier - 1952 - 1971 - Aldous Huxley - Ken Russell

The Devils (1971) - Ken Russell [Amazon.com]

The Devils (1971) - Ken Russell

  • The Devils (1971) - Ken Russell [Amazon.com]

    The Devils is a film directed by Ken Russell and starring Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave. It is also known as The Devils of Loudon and the story was adpated from the Aldous Huxley book of that name. At the time of its release, and later, the film has been regarded as controversial for its use of religious imagery and its strong and relatively explicit sexual themes.

    Cultural impact
    Huxley wrote his historical book about the trial of Urbain Grandier to explore how, what he saw as a basic human need for transcendence, could be perverted into mass hysteria and mob violence. However, the details of the film's plot owe rather more to Russell than Huxley or even the play by John Whiting. The characters are all extremes, their character a set of stylized absolutes - allegorical figures rather than people. The stark and anachronistic set, with walls of sterile white brick, designed by Derek Jarman, and expressionistic music by Peter Maxwell Davies give the film an avant-garde feel. However the narrative often seems to rely on a grand guignol of rotting corpses and masturbating nuns for sensational effect.

    Plot summary
    Set in 17th century France. Reed plays Grandier, a dissolute and proud but popular and well-regarded priest in the fortified city of Loudun. Needing to control the city and crush its Protestantism, Louis XIII (Graham Armitage) and Cardinal Richelieu (Christopher Logue) conspire to have Grandier accused of witchcraft and of corrupting the local convent, headed by the deformed Sister Jeanne (Redgrave). She is a neurotic obsessed with Grandier, brought in to attack the Protestants she inspires many into an baseless attack on Grandier as an incubus and witch. He is tried in a hysterical atmosphere of religious extremes and outrageous behaviour by the lunatic Father Barre (Michael Gothard), condemned and burned. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devils_%28film%29 [Jan 2005]


    The film's combination of religious themes and imagery combined with explicit sexual content was a test for the British Board of Film Classification that at the time was under pressure from socially conservative lobbying groups. In order to get an 'X' certificate Russell made sacrificial cuts of some of the nudity. The film was kept from home video distribution and television screening until the 1990s. A two-and-a-half-minute sequence depicting crazed naked nuns sexually assaulting a statue of Christ was removed at the studio's insistence before the film was submitted to the BBFC censors, who removed a further 89 seconds. All of this material was presumed lost or destroyed until critic Mark Kermode found the complete "Rape of Christ" sequence and several other deleted scenes in 2002. Although some material may have been lost forever, the NFT was able to show The Devils in the fullest possible state in 2004. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devils_%28film%29 [Nov 2005]

    Devils of Loudun (1952) - Aldous Huxley

  • Devils of Loudun (1952) - Aldous Huxley [Amazon.com]

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