5.1/10
139
2 user 8 critic

Visions of Ecstasy (1989)

| Short
Depicts erotic images of the 16th century Carmelite nun, St Teresa.

Director:

Nigel Wingrove

Writer:

Nigel Wingrove
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Louise Downie Louise Downie ... St. Teresa of Avila
Elisha Scott Elisha Scott ... psyche of St. Teresa
Dan Fox Dan Fox ... Christ
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Storyline

"Visions of Ecstasy" once had the distinction of being the only production refused by the British Board of Film Classification for blasphemy. The film depicts St. Theresa engaged sexually with both another woman and Jesus Christ on the cross, and while never threatening to be anything more than just visions of ecstasy, the film's religious invocations were enough to have it banned until blasphemy laws were repealed in 2008. The experimental nature of Visions of Ecstasy has the advantage of diminishing the contextual implications of building a strong link between sexual and religious ecstasy while also permitting audiences to draw their own interpretations. Written by Ulf Kjell Gür

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Genres:

Short

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Company Credits

Production Co:

Axel Films Ltd. See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was rejected for a UK certificate by the BBFC on the grounds of possible blasphemous libel. After an appeal failed the distributor took the case to the European Court of Human Rights in 1996 to consider whether the existence of a law of blasphemy was consistent with Freedom of Expression rights. The original BBFC decision was upheld and, until 2011, this remained the only film banned in the UK on the grounds of blasphemy. On January 31 2011, the BBFC lifted the ban and instead gave the film an 18 rating. See more »

Connections

Featured in Artsnight: Censorship and Cronenberg 's Crash (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Interesting, but not as interesting as its banned status might lead you to believe.
12 November 2014 | by eddie052010See all my reviews

Film is an art form that many people make and that many people watch everyday, and depending on its quality, the latter will either love it or hate it. But what drives a person to see a film? The fact that it is from a director/writer they like? That it is an adaptation of a work that they are a fan of? Out of curiosity maybe? All of these reasons and more are motivations that people have when they go to see a film. However, none of those reasons are why people (including myself) maybe interested to this film. Instead, people may be interested to see it based on its infamous banned status. That's right, this film in question was banned in Britain for over two decades on the grounds of blasphemy and is the only film to have this distinction. At first this status may make the film appealing to watch, as a film that has been banned suggests that the film is radical, rebellious and an interesting watch overall. However, if you are seeing this on those grounds, you will be very disappointed. Unlike other once banned films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Last House on the Left, this film isn't very shocking, interesting or entirely compelling.

The main reason for this is that this film is essentially an art- house film that may appeal to art-house fans, but not much for anyone else. Firstly, the plot (like a lot of art-house fare) is essentially non-existent, and acts more as a context to the events on screen, that includes (SPOILERS) nuns cutting themselves, a nun having sexual intercourse with Jesus on a cross (yes, really) and dripping water. While some of that may sound shocking to many, it surprisingly isn't shocking at all. While some banned films (like the aforementioned Texas Chainsaw Massacre) can still be as radical or shocking today as they were during their prime, time has not been kind to this film, something which the initial banning may have had an effect on as what was shocking back in the late 80's is less shocking two decades later, mainly due to the fact that similar imagery has been done to death in many other types of art (mainly in Nine Inch Nails/Marilyn Manson music videos), which may have ruined the initial shock you might have had going into this film blind. It doesn't help that the lack of a story makes this imagery feel more random and bizarre rather than outrageous and shocking.

However, I still admire the film in many ways as well. It is clearly well-made, and a lot of the film reflects this. The cinematography is gorgeous and the soundtrack (some of it at least) is very good and gives off an operatic mood that you would expect for a film that deals with religious themes. While also lacking the shock that it might have had, the film does make up for it in style with the aforementioned cinematography and music which does set a mood very well, which manages to keep you interested throughout the whole film. This, in my opinion, makes the film better than other once banned films which relies entirely on shock value to work as it does attempt to be more than a shock piece, which I think the film succeeds at, mainly due to its style.

Overall, while I do think that the film is less shocking and interesting than it's banned status would have you believe, the film (I think) is still worth checking out. It has a good atmosphere, is technically well-done and has an impressive style. While not a masterpiece, it still has much to offer (especially if you like art- house movies) and out of all the films that have been recently had their BBFC ban lifted, this is one of the more interesting finds. Sure, its ban may have aged the film poorly, but it's something I would still recommend, warts and all.


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