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Anne and Lore, neighbors and best friends, barely into their teens, board at a convent school where they have taken a vow to sin and to serve Satan. Anne keeps a secret diary, they read a salacious novel, they get a classmate in trouble, they spy on the nuns, they set aside their communion wafers; they make a pact of devotion. Summer vacation starts: Anne's parents leave her alone with the servants for two months at the family château. She and Lore are free to make mischief. They are cruel as well and play games of seduction. As summer ends and fall term begins, things come to a head. Written by
During the Satanic Mass and the following Lake Scene, the two girls wear see-through dresses. During the Mass, one can easily notice that Lore is wearing black panties, but, during the Lake Scene, she evidently wears nothing under her dress. See more »
I was part of an extremely fortunate bunch of people who got to see this rare gem of euro-cult cinema on the big screen; moreover inside an authentic old-fashioned grindhouse type of theater where the walls threaten to fall down at any given moment and the equipment has surely seen better days already. I can assure you these rather primitive viewing conditions add a large portion of raw atmosphere to an already gritty and unsettling film. But nevertheless "Don't Deliver Us From Evil" suffers a little from its own controversial reputation, as it has got a lot more to offer than just graphic shocks and gratuitous nudity. The film poster proudly announces, in letters that are far bigger than the title itself, that this is the only French film to be banned in France. It's a nice promotion stunt, but it only forces potential viewers to anticipate a non-stop sleazy and exploitative smut flick, whereas Joël Séria's film is primarily a beautifully dark and almost poetic depiction of how adolescents of high social descent deal with boredom and sexual curiosity. The script may be loosely inspired by the real-life Parker-Hulme murder case (the same case Peter Jackson used for his "Heavenly Creatures") but I strongly believe Séria also used the opportunity to criticize the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church as well as the unfair French social classification system. During the long & boring nights at the boarding school, 14-year-old Anne becomes interested in salacious literature and she quickly convinces her friend Lore to join her into exploring the exact opposite of all the Catholic mumbo-jumbo that is forced upon them by the nuns and their deeply religious parents. It all starts with naughty, yet harmless games and the discovery of their own bodies & sexuality, but the situation escalates into something genuinely malice. When summer vacation begins, and the girls spend two months away from authority, they perform a ritual to become accepted as disciples of Satan and cross the line for good. Their innocent games are gradually replaced with the the dangerous seduction of mentally unstable men, vicious rites of animal cruelty, arson and eventually murder.
Séria's criticism towards the Catholic Church and the authorities' obnoxiousness is mainly illustrated through the lack of response by the adults! The film exclusively revolves on the acts of the two girls and never at one point suggests that the grown-ups in their surrounding are even aware of the evil they commit. Anne and Lore actually even bring themselves down in the (downright staggering and jaw-dropping) finale because they THINK they'll get caught. The performances of Jeanne Goupil and Catherine Wagener are simply amazing and also very courageous. It's almost unbelievable to accept they 19-20 years old during filming as they honestly look like inexperienced girls who barely hit puberty. Their age and especially the nude sequences they're in often make "Don't Deliver Us From Evil" a terribly difficult film to watch. It feels incredibly wrong to watch at these girls as they're parading in their panties and provocatively seduce men, but it more or less remains a tasteful film at all times. The impact of the message Séria brings probably was a lot more shocking in the prudish France of the early 1970's which is undoubtedly why the Church insisted on censorship but it's still intense enough to upset audiences even today, and particularly the end-sequence will haunt your thoughts for several days afterwards. It's a beautiful film, with enchanting cinematography by Marcel Combes and an excellent 'La La La' theme song that regularly gets repeated during the most essential sequences.
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