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.
Scottish archaeologist Angus Flint discovers an odd skull amid the ruins of a convent that he is excavating. Shortly thereafter, Lady Sylvia Marsh returns to Temple House, a nearby mansion,... See full summary »
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
Spike Milligan was originally cast as Baron De Laubardemont, but he was replaced when Ken Russell felt he could not properly convince in this straight dark role. See more »
Early in the movie when Urbain Grandier (Oliver Reed) is seen grooming his hair. It is a close-up of him supposedly looking at a mirror in the upper left hand corner of the screen, behind the viewer. Obviously there is no mirror as he consistently misses combing the more egregiously messed up parts of his hair and instead repeatedly combs the portions that are already groomed. In fact when he is done, his hair is still messed up. See more »
My opinion of Ken Russell was, like many people, prejudiced before viewing by the many negative reports about his films. Every establishment film critic I read in the 1980s described him as exaggerated, unrealistic, sex-obsessed and vulgar. As a young man I felt these comments to be confirmed when I saw The Music Lovers, which (compared to Amadeus) seemed in my opinion to lack the requisite respectful period drama feel of a composer's biopic (little did I know that Russell had pioneered the composer biopic). However, The Devils blew me away both before and after reading Huxley's excellent history book on which it was based. It is a stunning and vivid recreation of a repressive period in France's religious history which has universal symbolic overtones, and the lack of realism (if it exists) could easily be the critic or viewer's inability to understand another age of history in the way a dedicated filmmaker can. It is a triumph of integrity, scriptwriting, acting, directing, design (by Derek Jarman, no less) and cerebral and visceral entertainment.
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