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The Devils (1971)

R | | Drama, History | 16 July 1971 (USA)
In 17th-century France, Father Urbain Grandier seeks to protect the city of Loudun from the corrupt establishment of Cardinal Richelieu. Hysteria occurs within the city when he is accused of witchcraft by a sexually repressed nun.



(screenplay), (based on the play by) | 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dudley Sutton ...
Baron De Laubardemont
Max Adrian ...
Father Barre
Georgina Hale ...
Brian Murphy ...
Christopher Logue ...
Graham Armitage ...
Andrew Faulds ...
Sister Judith


Cardinal Richelieu and his power-hungry entourage seek to take control of seventeenth-century France, but need to destroy Father Grandier - the priest who runs the fortified town that prevents them from exerting total control. So they seek to destroy him by setting him up as a warlock in control of a devil-possessed nunnery, the mother superior of which is sexually obsessed by him. A mad witch-hunter is brought in to gather evidence against the priest, ready for the big trial. Written by Niz

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Never had there been exorcisms like this. See more »


Drama | History


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

16 July 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Devils of Loudun  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (restored)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


A major sequence in which the nuns tear down and ravish a life-sized icon of Christ in an orgiastic frenzy was cut from the film and subsequently vanished. Film critic Mark Kermode discovered the footage many years later. Director Russell was keen to reinstate the scene but found that Warner Brothers were not interested in doing a director's cut. The footage can be seen in a documentary Kermode made about Russell and was subsequently included in an uncut DVD release. See more »


Judith Paris's character is referred to as Sister Agnes in the film but listed as Sister Judith in the credits. See more »


[to Grandier]
Baron De Laubardemont: Hell will hold no surprises for you.
See more »


Referenced in Still Tickin': The Return of A Clockwork Orange (2000) See more »


Bourrée d'Avignon
from Secretum musarum (1615)
Music by Nicolas Vallet.
Played as the king's dance in the opening.
See more »

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User Reviews

Ken Russell's little known masterpiece
1 June 2004 | by (Buffalo NY) – See all my reviews

A few movies are so controversial that the Movie industry does their best to kill them off (see Terry Gilliams' "Brazil"). Such was the case with "The Devils" First, to clear a few things up...this did NOT come from a play, nor was it a novel. It is based on Aldous Huxley's painstakingly researched religious history of the famous Loudun exorcisms during the time of Richelieu. The book may be out of print, but my wife found a copy published in 1952 by Chatto & Windus. There are some more recent publications, but this one is lovely, with an engraving of Bishop Urban Grandier(the main character) dating back to 1627. Huxley actually includes original letters, which still exist, written by the participants of this travesty. Much of the dialogue of the film is directly from Huxley. The vision however is uniquely Russell's. When this movie was originally released, it was given an X rating, not due to sex, or even violence, although there is some of each. The plain fact is that the film in its original form is simply overpowering. The Movie Review board thought so! I was fortunate enough to see the original uncut version, rated X at the local art-house upon its release. This film is a shortened version. While still worthwhile, this film absolutely SCREAMS for a Criterion Collection restoration to its original (brilliant) form.

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Roger Ebert's review sbaldwin999
I found it truly uncut on DVD with excellent pic and sound peaceriver
Uncut Restored DVD lightgiver
Devils DVD-Petition is growing! myboigie
Being Re-Released in 2012!! godsboss10
Those structures at the end of the film happyreflex
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