The Devils

(GB, 1971, 107 mins)
CAST Vanessa Redgrave, Oliver Reed, Dudley Sutton, Max Adrian, Gemma Jones, Michael Gothard, Georgina Hale.


In seventeenth century France, Father Urbain Grandier (Oliver Reed) takes a rather liberal view of religious life, but does his best to protect the city of Loudun from the nefarious political designs of Cardinal Richelieu. But when a deranged nun, Sister Jeanne (Vanessa Redgrave) accuses him of having seduced her and others in the convent in the form of an incubus, mass religious hysteria sweeps the town, egged on by charismatic exorcist.

Based on a notorious historical incident, Ken Russell’s searing movie kept censors busy all over the world with its shocking imagery and no-holds-barred assault on ecclesiastical hypocrisy. Forty years on it retains its power, not least for the astounding, career-best performances from Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave, Derek Jarman’s bold production design, and the electrifying score by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

Never released on DVD or Bluray in North America. Please note some scenes may cause offence.

"The pinnacle of Russell’s astonishing career, blending the exuberant visuals and musical underpinning of his most most exotic fantasies wieh a serious undercurrent of outraged political intent… a fearsome, breathtaking masterwork." Mark Kermode, BBC

"A garish glossary of sado-masochism… a taste for visual sensation that makes scene after scene look like the masturbatory fantasies of a Roman Catholic boyhood." Alexander Walker, Evening Standard