The Devils is not a film for everyone . . .
Hell holds no surprises for them.
The Devils was the Ken Russell film version of the controversial play by John Whiting. The story, based on Aldous Huxley's The Devils of Loudun, concerns controversial 17th century French priest Urbain Grandier, whose radical political and religious notions and profligate sex life earn him many enemies. When a group of nuns appears to have been "bewitched" by Grandier, his rivals feed on the resulting mass hysteria, using this incident as an excuse to have the priest arrested. Refusing to confess to being in league with Satan and to renounce his "heretical" views, Grandier undergoes appalling tortures, and is finally burned at the stake. Vanessa Redgrave co-stars as the head nun. Due to censorship issues in virtually every country in which The Devils has been released, running times vary greatly.
his was a highly controversial film with a rough history of censorship issues; its commentary on religious institutions such as the Catholic Church and organized religion in general stirred up controversy from censorship and ratings boards around the world. This, combined with its graphic depictions of violence, accentuated the film's uncompromising subject matter.
Infamous hallucination sequence featuring Vanessa Redgrave sensually kissing Oliver Reed, who appears as Jesus after being taken down from the cross.
The film's combination of religious themes and imagery combined with violent and sexual content was a test for the British Board of Film Censors that at the time was being lobbied by socially conservative pressure groups such as the Festival of Light.
In order to earn a British 'X' certificate (suitable for those aged 18 and over), Russell made minor cuts to the more explicit nudity (mainly in the cathedral and convent sequences), details from the first exorcism (mainly that which indicated an anal insertion), some shots of the crushing of Grandier's legs, the pantomime sequence during the climactic burning, as well as the overdubbing of "cunt" and "fuck me". However, the biggest cuts were made by the studio itself, prior to submission to the BBFC, removing two scenes in their entirety, notably a two-and-a-half-minute sequence of crazed naked nuns sexually assaulting a statue of Christ and about half of a latter scene with Sister Jeanne masturbating with the charred femur of Grandier at the end of the film. However, even in its released form, the film was considerably stronger in detail than most films released prior to that point.
Its fate in the US was even more stringent, with a further set of cuts made to even more of the nudity with some key scenes (including Sister Jeanne's crazed visions, exorcism and the climactic burning) shorn of the more explicit detail. The film was released in 'X' form (no one under 18 years of age admitted) during its initial US theatrical run, but later resubmitted after two additional minutes worth of footage were cut so that it could obtain an R rating.
Release Date: July 16, 1971 @ The Fine Arts
Distrib: Warner Brothers