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Devils, The (1971)

Cardinal Richelieu (Christopher Logue) and his power-hungry entourage seek to take control of 17th-century France but need to destroy Father Grandier (Oliver Reed) – the priest who runs the fortified town of Loudun and prevents them from exerting total control.

Father Grandier falls in love with and illicitly marries Madeleine (Gemma Jones), much to the fury of Sister Jeanne (Vanessa Redgrave), the sexually repressed hunchback Mother Superior of the convent, who – seeking revenge – accuses Grandier of sorcery.

Grandier’s political enemies then set out to destroy him by painting him as a warlock in control of a devil-possessed nunnery. A mad witch-hunter is brought in to gather evidence against the priest, ready for the big trial.

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Ken Russell’s adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudun is repulsive, hysterical, disturbing, overwhelming, stunning, compelling and fascinating.

For once, Russell’s surreal hallucinogenic style matches his frenzied material and, while condemned for being anti-religious, this is, in fact, a highly moral tale of absolute faith.

In one of the most controversial and censored films of all time, Oliver Reed gives his best-ever performance as the priest destroyed by political manipulators.

The censored scenes of the “demonic possessions” include a psychedelic orgy of naked nuns ‘raping’ a statue of Christ and Sister Jeanne masturbating with a human bone. The uncut version of The Devils is a mind-blowing, audacious exploration of ecstasy (both religious and sexual).

Father Urbain Grandier
Oliver Reed
Sister Jeanne
Vanessa Redgrave
Baron de Laubardemont
Dudley Sutton
Max Adrian
Gemma Jones
Murray Melvin
Father Barre
Michael Gothard
Georgina Hale
Brian Murphy
Cardinal Richelieu
Christopher Logue
Louis XIII
Graham Armitage

Ken Russell