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The Devils Reviews

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Anthony L

Super Reviewer

April 11, 2012
This is any Cinefiles dream come true, Ken Russel adapting John Whiting adapting Aldous Huxley starring Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave. Derek Jarman's set design is up there with 2001: A space Odyssey and Ben-Hur in my opinion. One of the greatest British films ever made.

Super Reviewer

October 11, 2007
One of my all time favorite movies, sadly missing a proper DVD release with the full uncut version to this day. Seems the movie keeps hitting nerves after 40 years. Oliver Reed gives the performance of a lifetime.

Super Reviewer

October 8, 2007
Here's a film that deserves a far more detailed write-up than I am going to give it. Easily the best film I saw last year. Stellar performances keep your eyes positively glued to the screen. Wild, fiery subject matter for those willing to open themselves up to it. Well worth seeking out the original cut of the film, with the "Rape of Christ" sequence in it. This almost got an official DVD release a while back but someone applied the brakes. Lets hope cooler heads prevail and let this amazing film be seen by a greater audience.
familiar s

Super Reviewer

August 17, 2010
There have been quite a few movies on false accusations of witchcraft, but the highly extra-ordinary execution of the subject matter herein makes this one, one devil of a film.

Super Reviewer

December 13, 2009
Nice but even tiny bit cheesy 70 Movie

Super Reviewer

July 18, 2009
Insane depiction of insanity, hypocrisy & corruption, Impressive in most aspects
Pierluigi P

Super Reviewer

June 13, 2007
Oliver Reed gives an outstanding performance in Ken Russell's fiendish, macabre and utterly delirious parade that shows through a pinhole the dangers and excesses of superstition in the dark ages of christianity.

Super Reviewer

June 18, 2008
purporting to tell the true story of a politically motivated witchhunt in 17th century france, this is far from a standard period drama. it's a spectacle that must be seen to be believed. fine performances from oliver reed as the doomed priest and vanessa redgrave as the 'possessed' nun who accuses him. ken russell may well be insane but i'm betting no one else could have made a film quite like this. not for the easily offended!
Ken S

Super Reviewer

July 20, 2007
This movie is a masterpiece. Absolutely in my top 20 all time favorites list.

The camera work and imagery has a strange effect. A hypnotically surreal mediation on religion...

What it all means I don't really know, but it's a strangely beautiful film.

Super Reviewer

April 6, 2008
In 17th century France, a hunchbacked nun accuses a chick-magnet priest of being a warlock. "Based on historical fact," like the little known historical fact about the famous 17th century rock-n-roll exorcist with the sleeveless vestments and lavender-tinted John Lennon granny glasses. Fun if you take it as a surrealistic "nuns gone wild" comedy, rather than as the metaphor for "authentic" religious faith director Ken Russell sometimes seems to be preaching.
Fernando Rafael Q

Super Reviewer

March 12, 2008

Super Reviewer

March 10, 2008
This twisted look at religious manipulation, fervor and perversion is not for the faint of heart or easily offended. But is visually quite stunning and Vanessa Redgrave is amazing.

The French town of Loudon was on the verge of ruin and the last area not controled by the ominous Cardinal Richelieu when the handsome (and allegedly womanizing) new parish priest Father Grandier arrives.

He was initially very popular amongst the town folk and fought to prevent the power hungry Cardinal from taking over the town.

Almost immediately upon his introduction and snubbing of the (humpbacked) Mother Superior of the local cloistered convent of nuns, all hell breaks loose. LITERALLY!

The nuns begin a period of sexually explicite mass hysteria which is based around the priest coming to them at night (in the form of the devil) and having his way with them.

These events are a precurseor to our own Salem Witch trials (which were to happen about 50 years later) and while our trials involved the deaths of far more people,,,the events at Loudon are far more shocking and equally disturbing.

The Cardinal sends his "best men" in to get to the bottom of things and after several (public) exocrisms and inquisitions the Cardinal (thanks to the nuns) ultimately succeeds in causing the untimely death (by fire) of the priest who proclaimed his innocence until the end.

One of the most disturbing aspects of this story is the fact that the town of Loudon became a sort of tourist destination and was saved from ruin (but not from the Cardinal) by people coming (for years afterward) to witness the ongoing public exorcisms of the nuns who still claimed to be in the grip of "the devil" long after the priests demise.

An early example of religious fanatics using their faith as a political tool and as a way to persecute others.

I guess some things never really change.
Michael S

Super Reviewer

March 6, 2008
A truely unsettling and uncompromising cinematic experience. Will stay with you for weeks.
Stephen M

Super Reviewer

September 21, 2007
I don't know why I like this film so much; Ken Russell movies usually give me a headache so this, his most over-the-top feature, ought to send me running to the medicine cabinet before the credits are over! The relaxation of censorship laws at the end of the '60s/beginning of the '70s heralded a bunch of movies which pushed the boundaries of explicit content. To give three examples: "Straw Dogs", "A Clockwork Orange" and "The Devils", all made in Britain for Warner Bros. Interestingly, while those other two films have lost most of their shock-value over the years, "The Devils" - even though it was hacked to pieces by the British and American censors - has lost none of its power. This could be Oliver Reed's finest hour; everybody else in the movie is camp or hysterical (or both) and he glides through it with immense dignity as a priest wrongly tried for heresy.
Eric B

Super Reviewer

April 27, 2011
"The Devils," a 17th-century tale of religious fanaticism, may be writer/director Ken Russell's best film, but it could have been even better if he hadn't pushed his actors so far over the top. It's bad enough that Oliver Reed has steam coming out of his ears whenever he's onscreen and that Vanessa Redgrave is often a cringe as the twitching, hunchbacked Sister Jeanne. But the worst offender is Michael Gothard as the histrionic, witch-hunting Father Barre. Not only is Gothard engaged in a persistent contest with Reed and Redgrave to see who can screech his/her lines the loudest, but his hippie haircut and John Lennon spectacles are ridiculously out of place in a period film. It's impossible to take his character seriously, and that's a significant problem for someone who emerges as the story's top villain. Dudley Sutton and Murray Melvin are actually more effective in much smaller nemesis roles.

On the other hand, the film's look is incredible (the sets, courtesy of the young Derek Jarman, are intentionally restricted to austere black and white) and Peter Maxwell Davies' assaultive score is one of the most thrilling works of contemporary classical music I've heard in a film. Otherwise, it probably goes without saying that if you have a fetish for writhing, naked nuns in heat, this will be the greatest movie you ever saw.

I believe that I caught a nearly unedited version of this still-controversial film, but I did read something online about a closing shot of Sister Jeanne stimulating herself with a phallus-shaped bone fragment. Alas, the cut I saw did not include this.

Super Reviewer

July 31, 2010
In "The Devils," Cardinal Richelieu(Christopher Logue) is working on a cunning plan through King Louis XIII(Graham Armitage) that involves the consolidation of the power of the state by tearing down the fortifications of individual villages. One such is in Loudun where Father Grandier(Oliver Reed) watches over with a kind eye, keeping the religious wars at bay by being tolerant of the local Huguenot population. Even with the plague raging and the mother of Madeleine(Gemma Jones) dying, he maintains his dignified authority. That might explain why all the nuns have the hots for him, especially Sister Jeanne(Vanessa Redgrave).

With an assist from the modernist set design of Derek Jarman, "The Devils" is an engrossing movie based on historical fact that belies its reputation as blasphemy. Director Ken Russell's irreverence is more honest about history than most movies and has actually been quite influential over time.(I can't explain the crocodile, though.) It is quite clear through Oliver Reed's miraculously controlled performance that Grandier is for real(check out Jeanne's visions if you don't believe me). What Ken Russell is really interested in is taking well-deserved shots at hypocrisy in the Church. For example, the hunchback Jeanne mentions that the women entered the order for a variety of reasons, none of them religious, all convenient. The most provocative idea in the entire movie is put forth by Father Grandier that priests should marry(of all the things you can criticize a man for, having a healthy sex drive should be way down on the list). In fact, forced celibacy can also be perverse in its own way.
August 26, 2012
Ken Russell's visually ravishing, ferocious opera of excesses, serves as a warning against religious hysteria and the marriage of church and state...
September 21, 2011
Found this to be excruciating to watch. Wasn't sure what this movie was trying to say about sex...or religion...or the time period...or anything really. Watch at own risk, the film is not for the timid or faint of heart. I just don't particularly care for the over the top nature of the performances, and the rather goofy characters and plot, or the over the top 70s style of the direction.
Shane D

Super Reviewer

December 13, 2008
You've gotta love Ken Russell. I mean, he seems to be a really big fan of nudity, blasphemy, perversion, violence, and hallucinatory insanity, you know, the good things in life. With this one he goes straight for the church's hypocritical throat and succeeds in tearing it out for all to see. And he does it with style. A philandering priest, a horny, hunchback reverend mother, orgiastic nuns who fuck anything that moves (and some things that don't), and inquisitorial torture devices are just some of the highlights of this non-stop parade of catholic bashing fun.
June 11, 2009
Definitely lives up to its notoriety. Just as provocative as it was in '71. Impressive performances, crazy, whacked-out religious sacrilege and injustices. Needless to say I loved it. "Remove my hump, remove my hump." Holy fuck.
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