The Devils (1971)
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as Mother Joan of the Angels
as Urbain Grandier
as the Baron
as Madeleine De Brou
as Father Mignon
as Father Pierre Barre
as Philippe Trincant
as Cardinal Richelieu
as Louis XIII
as Louis Trincant
as Sister Judith
as Sister Catherine
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Critic Reviews for The Devils
The truly provocative -- some might even say blasphemous -- part of the film is its assertion that, even while preaching their rhetoric of sin and salvation, nuns and priests and cardinals are only human, and humans are nothing but animals.
It is like a lunatic opera, an attempt to make a furious poem out of frenzy. Russell's flamboyant theatricality and his interest in the perverse have been too much imposed on his other films; but here, style and subject are perfectly matched.
All the events and persons depicted in The Devils are intended to be confused with actual events and persons. How do I know? Ken Russell tells me so.
Reed carries the film with an admirably restrained portrayal of the doomed priest. Redgrave, on screen only sporadically, is stunning as the salacious sister.
No matter how thickly Russell piles on the masturbating nuns, tortured priests and dissolute dauphins, there's no getting round the fact that it's all more redolent of a camp revue than a cathartic vision.
Audience Reviews for The Devils
Ken Russell's work here is deliberately thought-provoking as a priest (Reed) living on the edge of popular thought, and stubbornly argumentative with the powers-that-be, is therefore expeditiously accused of worshipping Satan. Hysteria follows. The finger pointed at modern society is strong with this one. Don't say I didn't warn you. Parental guidance suggested. For your parents, too.
For a while, the impression one gets is that Russell is not interested in discussing insanity (or its nature) but just to show it - bare naked - in a purely exploitative, surrealistic way; which is true, until everything moves so confidently towards an apotheotic display of mad depravity.
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.
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