Sunday, September 18, 2016

DVD/150: THE DEVILS (Ken Russell, 1971) - still unsettling after 45 years...

Of the films that caused film censorship controversy, THE DEVILS has lasted the longest with constant censor and distributor interference: Warner Brothers still refuse to include 'lost' footage or release the film on US DVD.

THE DEVILS is based on real events:  In August 1634 in Loudun a catholic priest Urbain Grandier was burnt to death for witchcraft and causing a number of Ursuline nuns to become demonically possessed, the chief accuser being the Mother Superior Sister Jeanne.

Grandier was victim to public and private revenge; he had opposed Cardinal Richelieu's wish to crush Loudon's autonomy and he was the subject of Sister Jeanne's sexual fantasies which turned to hate when she learnt of his other mistresses.

Explosive performances from Vanessa Redgrave, Oliver Reed and the supporting cast, Derek Jarman's glorious design and Peter Maxwell Davies' disorientating score all contribute to Russell's vision of an individual crushed by the State.  

Shelf or charity shop? Ken Russell's cataclysmic vision will be disturbing me for years to come...

1 comment:

Doug Ballenger said...

SHELF! for god's sake.