7.9/10
10,854
102 user 111 critic

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 »
Reviews
Popularity
3,722 ( 302)
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:

The Devils is not a film for everyone . . . See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | USA

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

Jeanne: They always spoke of your beauty, and now I see it with my own eyes and it is true.
Grandier: Look at this thing that I am and learn the meaning of love.
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 brilliant, disturbing film
30 November 1999 | by eunice-4See all my reviews

I can never understand why "The Devils", which was such a major film and caused such controversy, never became a cult classic being shown every other week on cable TV. This film totally annihilates all the trashy "straight-to-video" horror films. Based on true events in 17th century France, this film is one of the most horrifying tales of man's intolerance: religious and sexual.

The tale begins with an outbreak of the plague, which the folk of the middle ages, with typical misunderstanding of the real cause, rat fleas, believed that someone was to blame. Who more convenient a scapegoat than Father Grandier, played by the notorious Oliver Reed an actor who ended his rambunctious life by dropping dead in a bar. The sexual appeal of Fr. Grandier drives the supposedly celibate clergy into a frenzy of jealousy. A group of nuns, led by a noblewoman who has been forced into the convent due to her physical deformity and therefore, lack of marriageable options, joins in the hysteria which is not satisfied until Fr. Grandier is burned at the stake.

Although set in France in the middle ages, a lot of the hysteria can be seen today, in our more enlightened times. Just witness the periodic witch hunts in the United States, such as the furore over the alleged Satanic cults running day care centers, not to mention the reds under the beds hysteria of the 50's.

This was one of Ken Russell's most controversial films, and definitely very 70's in its style, after all, we had Mick Jagger and Twiggy perfectly cast as decadent French nobility, and it has taken 20+ years to see how right on the mark he was.

Although Russell was the hottest thing in cinema for a while, he faded like a discarded fashion as every wannabe copied his style, but without being able to understand what is was that set Ken Russell apart. Unfortunately Russell did not help his reputation by becoming more and more the icon of bad taste. Eventually he became a parody and the fickle who had formally worshipped his genius could not disassociate themselves quickly enough.

Like Orson Welles, Ken Russell's brilliance will not be realized until a new generation discovers his work. I recommend "The Devils" along with "The Music Lovers" as his best work.


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