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(YouTube) Video Saturday Cinema: The Devils, 1971 - A witchcraft trial is concocted to remove a troublesome governor. The forgotten Ken Russell directs. (NSWF trailer)   (youtube.com ) divider line
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1533 clicks; posted to Video » on 10 May 2014 at 4:17 PM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-05-10 10:21:25 AM  
i1216.photobucket.com

Very Catholic France was dealing with outbreaks of Protestantism. It's decided to smash the walls of some towns in order to prevent those locations from being used as forts in case they fall to the Protestants.

One governor refuses to have his town's walls destroyed and so witchcraft charges are brought against him. How? The sexually demented ravings of a nun are used as 'evidence' of the governor's alliances with Satan.

As a non-religious person, this film can be frustrating to watch characters clearly making up magical nonsense to justify political decisions. Testimony resembles the Emperor's New Clothes but no-one wants to end up getting accused themselves so they all go along with it. The logic they use is on the order of the witch hunter in Monty Python Holy Grail film but played straight.

Released in 1971, Ken Russell's film is full of anti-religious sentiment and sexualized imagery. The film was trimmed by UK censors upon release and heavily edited for general release in the US.

Sex, violence and religion in one very intense package made this film sink like a stone. The author of a book about the making of the film  discussed the context of the film, and the reaction to it on a film program a year or two ago. Note that the term X-Rated meant something different in GB: It was a rating referring to violence in films and there's no shortage of that here along with Russell's trademark fascination with religious and nudity.

A major dream sequence in which the nuns tear down and ravish a life-sized icon of Christ in an orgiastic frenzy was cut from the film and subsequently vanished. Film critic Mark Kermode discovered the footage many years later. Russell was keen to reinstate the scene but found that Warner Brothers uninterested in doing a director's cut. The footage can be seen in a documentary included in a DVD release but an uncut version has never made it into general distribution.

Russell started off as a BBC short film director with occasional forays into commercial films to pay the bills but is best known for outlandish controversial films. His films have a deliberately strong visual style. For example, for the Devils, the sets aremodelled on the sets of Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Russell wanted to avoid the clichéd look of period films even if the design was anachronistic. That people were wearing 1960s style 'John Lennon' style glasses may not have made objective sense, but in the dream logic of the film, it works in the same way that the obviously false sets of a stage play 'work'. Scorsese was a fan of Russell's work.

Oliver Reed plays the priest heading the town. In this interview he underlines that the bigotry and politics of the film wasn't remote, but had direct parallels in the Irish situation. Vanessa Redgrave stars as the nun.

Here are some IMDB user reviews.

Link to Last Week's Saturday Cinema
If next week's Saturday Cinema were creating the world it wouldn't mess about with butterflies and daffodils. It would have started with lasers: eight o'clock, day one!

3.bp.blogspot.com
 
2014-05-10 04:09:47 PM  
A dvd of the restored film has yet to become available in the U.S., has it? The film restoration was done before Ken Russell died, but I don't know if he did any sort of commentary for a dvd release. I've seen it a couple of times but the last was late 70's or maybe 1980 at the latest. Oliver Reed is kind of perfect here.
 
2014-05-10 07:11:39 PM  
I caught this on vhs a couple times back in the day. Outstanding film, really. The inquisitors are especially fascinating.

/"This slimy substance can only be semen"
 
2014-05-10 07:31:03 PM  
The forgotten Ken Russell

LOLWUT?

Once you see this:


p2.la-img.com

you can't just 'Forget it'.
 
2014-05-10 07:46:07 PM  
So, is that William Shatner doing the VO?
 
2014-05-10 10:15:54 PM  
"Saturday Cinema: The Devils, 1971 - A witchcraft trial is concocted to remove a troublesome governor. The forgotten Ken Russell directs. (NSWF trailer) "

"NSWF"? Not Suitable With Food? I believe it!

Remove a troublesome governor? Day-um.....Maine, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, all want tips! Witchcraft it is, then!
 
2014-05-10 10:20:19 PM  
Ken Russell is not forgotten.
 
2014-05-10 10:21:45 PM  
So they cast Dudley Sutton but didn't cast Ian McShane?

/Lovejoy rules!
 
2014-05-10 10:27:25 PM  
Forgotten Ken Russell? On which planet do you live, Subby.
Quite a lot of his stuff is available in the States. The Devils is probably one of his more extreme works, so if you're interested, start with something more conventional, like Lisztomania.
/heh heh heh
 
2014-05-10 10:36:47 PM  
Came to express outrage that KR would be 'forgotten'. Knew I would not be alone.
 
2014-05-11 11:25:40 AM  
Snuck in to see it at 15.
 
2014-05-11 08:25:12 PM  
Why can't HBO run movies like this instead of Bowfinger?
 
2014-05-12 02:45:06 AM  

BenJammin: Why can't HBO run movies like this instead of Bowfinger?


They used to, back in ye olden days when late-night and afternoon-daytime tv was filled with movies instead of talk shows and infomercials.

Back when young people had some passing familiarity with the likes of Laurel+Hardy and Bogie+Bacall and Godzilla+Mothra+Rodan.

Programming these day seems so regimented+rigid+spontaneity-free. No surprises. No fun. Yeah, the programs are of a higher technical quality...

/not that I was able to get a whole lot of first-hand experience of it but...so I've extensively read.

/and...yeah...Crazy Ken will never be forgotten while I still have a working memory.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZxU1qHR9lM

HBO programming guide for June 1978 (back before it went 24/7/365 which occurred in the early 1980s)

use your pause button a lot to read.

sfw.
 
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