After three false starts, I’m delving once again, into this review of Ken Russell’s THE DEVILS. The film, originally released in 1971, had major problems getting released without a lot of editing. The version on Shudder is still missing this scene that can be found on YouTube which depicts “possessed” nuns having sex with a life sized Jesus on a Crucifix.

I was confused at first, the movie being on Shudder, that I was going to see a horror movie, but I failed to acknowledge two things; it was made by Ken Russell, and it was made in 1971. My first two observations after watching were; I’m not sure why this is on Shudder, unless we’re considering the horrors religion has wrought upon the world, and second, this movie could easily be summed up as Disney’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame”…with lots of tits and muff. If nudity or calling out religion bothers you, I wouldn’t recommend this film.

With all that out of the way, I was blown away by this film. The heavy robes of the Catholic priests that really haven’t changed much since the dawn of the Church set against a clean city outfitted completely in white tile, very much not what the city of Loudun would have looked like, the stark contrast was surreal, and allows the viewer to focus on the story without the distractions of the location. The story itself, written by Ken Russell, based on Aldous Huxley’s “The Devil’s of Loudun”, is a dramatic retelling of historical facts with Russell’s porn-lite bent.

The movie is centered around Catholic Priest Urbain Grandier, his apparent multiple indiscretions, secret marriage, search for salvation, and his ultimate downfall at the hands of his many detractors (a spurned girl that he impregnated, the girls father, sadistic witch hunters, another priest from the other side of town, and a hunchbacked Ursuline nun with a crush and visions of Grandier, and Cardinal Richelieu), and they all play their part in destroying, and murdering Grandier, and destroying Loudun.

I could spend a lifetime condemning religion, and the Catholic Church specifically, for the downfall of humanity; the corruption, the denial of (and therefore zest for) a human beings carnal nature, the wars waged in the name of one religion over another (and the lives lost due to Holy Wars), the creation of a scapegoat (the Devil) in order to have a place to lay blame instead of taking responsibility for ones own desires and actions, but, I don’t have to as Russell has covered all of this in a nice little package for us to enjoy, and enjoy it you should.


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