1971, Horror, 1h 49m30 Reviews 2,500+ Ratings
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Grimly stylish, Ken Russell's baroque opus is both provocative and persuasive in its contention that the greatest blasphemy is the leveraging of faith for power. Read critic reviews
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Baron De Laubardemont
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Critic Reviews for The Devils
What I find such a pity is that Russell should apparently so distrust his own skill as a mesmerising story-teller.
What is quite certain is that Russell has been true to himself as never before and that in doing so, he will irritate, excite, bore and outrage more film-goers than ever before.
Even more than The Music Lovers, The Devils reveals an infantile compulsion to shock and repel, cost what it will.
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.November 8, 2018 | Full Review…
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.November 8, 2018 | Full Review…
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.April 29, 2018 | Rating: 0/4 | Full Review…
Audience Reviews for The Devils
Oct 09, 2019Wonderfully profane madness. Even if the film's capacity to shock has diminished, Russel's vision remains unparalleled. You still haven't seen anything like this.Alec B Super Reviewer
Aug 03, 2018Ken 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.Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
May 09, 2018For 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.Carlos M Super Reviewer
Apr 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.Eric B Super Reviewer
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