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.
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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
Supermodel Twiggy and her manager/boyfriend Justin de Villeneuve were given brief cameo roles during the court scene, and appear as a male courtier and a tall silver-wigged gentleman respectively. However once the nuns started stripping Twiggy walked off the set and the pair only filmed one shot. See more »
(around 1h18:30) A few scenes after Grandier has been tortured by having a spike pierced through his tongue, he is shown praying despairingly, with the camera focused on his face as shot through the mask-contraption he had worn during this ordeal. The centre of focus is his mouth and tongue. As he speaks, it can be seen that there's no wound on his tongue. See more »
Oh, Christ, let me find a way to you. Take me in your sacred arms. Let the blood flow between us uniting us. (moans) Grandier. Grandier!
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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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