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The Devils (1971)

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.

Director:

Ken Russell

Writers:

Ken Russell (screenplay), John Whiting (based on the play by) | 1 more credit »
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4 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Vanessa Redgrave ... Sister Jeanne
Oliver Reed ... Urbain Grandier
Dudley Sutton ... Baron De Laubardemont
Max Adrian ... Ibert
Gemma Jones ... Madeleine
Murray Melvin ... Mignon
Michael Gothard ... Father Barre
Georgina Hale ... Philippe
Brian Murphy ... Adam
Christopher Logue Christopher Logue ... Cardinal Richelieu
Graham Armitage ... Louis XIII
John Woodvine ... Trincant
Andrew Faulds ... Rangier
Kenneth Colley ... Legrand
Judith Paris ... Sister Judith
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Hell holds no surprises for them. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English | Latin

Release Date:

16 July 1971 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Devils of Loudun See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$2,000,000, 31 December 1971
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Russo Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (restored)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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

Goofs

(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 »

Quotes

Ibert: No blood when the tongue was pricked: true sign of the devil.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Film Censorship In Australia. The Commonwealth Film Censorship Board imposed unprecedented advertising demands on a British film, 'The Devils', directed by Ken Russell. 'The Devils', produced by Russo Productions Ltd, has been registered "restricted" uncut on condition that all advertising be cleared by the chief film censor and carry a notice about the nature of the film. These details were contained in the Film Censorship Bulletin for January 1972, and a 9979-feet (110:53) version of THE DEVILS was passed with an R classification. It was registered, subject to the special conditions that:-
  • - - All advertising clearly indicates that this film is classified as shown on the Certificate of Registration,
  • - - All advertising (including any trailers) shall carry the following words:- "The Devils' is not a film for everyone. It tells of hideous events which allegedly occurred in France in 1634. Because the film is explicit and highly graphic in depicting those events, some-people will find it visually shocking and deeply disturbing."
  • - - A notice bearing the words:- " 'The Devils' is not a film for everyone. It tells of hideous events which allegedly occurred in France in 1634. Because the film is explicit and highly graphic in depicting those events, some people will find it visually shocking and deeply disturbing" shall be displayed outside all places where the film is being or is to be exhibited.
  • - - All advertising, whether - imported or locally-produced (or combination of imported and local produced) shall be submitted to the Chief Film Censor and shall be approved by him before release.
  • - - These conditions are imposed under the general power to put whatever conditions are thought appropriate upon the registration of any film.
In the United Kingdom, the BBFC demanded cuts to several scenes, including the masturbation by Jeanne with the black charred bone that Laubardemont gave to her as a souvenir. Warner Brothers to obtain a BBFC classification rating, made distributor cuts that eliminated the four-minute sequence showing a group of demented nuns raping a statue of Christ which brought the orgy to a climax, the so-called "Rape of Christ" before finally submitting their cut version to the British censors. The BBFC then removed a further 89 seconds. The resulting 110:53 minutes BBFC version was shown in Australian cinemas, and is the longest approved version of THE DEVILS. Warner Brothers have never allowed any of the eliminated sequences to be reinstated. See more »

Connections

Version of Mark of the Devil Part II (1973) See more »

Soundtracks

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

 
A Beautifully disturbing film
21 December 2000 | by bdpenningtonSee all my reviews

Ken Russell is one of those filmmakers whose work you can immediately identify. Whether your first was "Altered States" or (like me) "The Devils," you learn early on that if Mr. Russell's name is listed as director and/or writer, you can expect to be at least a little disturbed.

"The Devils" is, in my humble opinion, one of the best films ever made. I wish I hadnt been born so late because I can imagine how truly intense an experience it must've been to view "The Devils" in theater.

This film is the only film I've ever seen, regardless of genre, to take the viewer into the pit of hell and to hold her/him there unrelenting, uncompromising, and to make the viewer feel as s/he has actually experienced hell. I can only imagine how much difficulty Mr. Russell must have had when MPAA members saw this film. It's bleak, horrifying, shocking, disgusting and thoroughly delicious. Aldous Huxley (the author of the book on which this film was based) would have been proud to see that his true story of a Satanic Catholic church translated very well to film.

One last thing: I have never really been able to sit through the entire film since the first time I saw it. That is, odd as it sounds, extreme praise. What kind of hell would it be if I could sit comfortably?

Thank you, Ken Russell!


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