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The Devils 1971 ****

 

Ken Russell’s notorious film was cut, denounced and ridiculed on release, but has gained considerably in reputation despite being seen in butchered cuts. In hindsight, and without listing the catalogue of scenes deemed offensive at the time, it’s a serious minded adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudon and John Whiting’s play The Devils with Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave on top form as the priest and the nun set against each other by an inquisition into the behaviour of nuns in 17th century nuns. Seen with the missing Rape of Christ sequence restored, and you may have to cobble this edit together yourself, it’s a moving depiction of the corrupt nature of power, one that the film applies rigorously to Catholicism, but which has a wider and more potent meaning if audiences can see beyond the sensationalism. The Derek Jarman sets in themselves are extraordinary.

 

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