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
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 »
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 »
[to Sister Jeanne]
My dear sister in Christ, I must question you.
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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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