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
The role of Sister Jeanne was originally offered to Glenda Jackson, who turned it down because she was tired of playing sexually neurotic leads in Ken Russell movies. 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 »
[holding up Grandier's baby as Grandier burns at the stake]
Watch, bastard. See how your mother's honor was avenged.
Lucky little bastard! It's not every day Baby sees Daddy burn to death.
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Well the philosophical statements and commentary embedded into this film are far too numerous to evaluate. It's every line of dialog and every character. The overall moral of the story seemed to me that 'If a leader truly departs from the structure of power and refuses to submit to the boot of governance, and then starts to have real power and a following of their own, they will be utterly destroyed.', but there are many other equally ominous themes to choose from. I wish I could say I haven't watched stories which seemed hauntingly similar to Loudon's played out on the news many times.
But beyond the 'moral' as I see it, is the truly very creepy feel to the whole film. The scene in which an entire convent of naked nuns are being exorcised by an inquisitor of the 'demons' that are forcing them into a wild orgy of sex, is genuinely memorable as one of film's most surreal scenes. Amazingly, these events happen in a quite understandable sequence for logical (if nightmarish) reasons under Russell's direction. These people really seemed from a whole different world, as if they weren't human but they obviously were all-too human, and the sudden realization that this might actually be closer to the heritage of my own culture than what I was taught REALLY creeped me out. A very effective device. Almost made me ill to imagine it. A very powerful film, one of my picks for an all time best film.
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