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Daily Viewing. From Ken Russell's "The Devils"

The BFI announces the first-ever release on DVD.
David Hudson

The British Film Institute has announced today that it'll be giving Ken Russell's The Devils (1971) its first-ever release on DVD next year on March 19. Mark Kermode, who's championed Russell's work for years (and yes, that includes the late work) — here he is in 2008 calling for a release of The Devils in its complete form — says: "Ken Russell is one of Britain's greatest living filmmakers and The Devils remains his most incendiary work — an extraordinary and impassioned depiction of the unholy marriage of church and state which is as relevant today as it was when the film was first released."

Which is when it was promptly banned in several countries (see the Wikipedia entry for details), even though Russell would win Best Director awards in Venice and from the National Board of Review in the US. The BFI: "The Devils is based on events that took place in 17th century Loudun, when an alleged mass possession of nuns swept through a convent. The film features a magnificent performance from Oliver Reed as a priest, whose presence triggers an erotic obsession in Sister Jeanne (Vanessa Redgrave, also excellent), sparking off the widespread hysteria. Derek Jarman designed the striking, highly memorable sets and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies composed a supremely well-matched score for Russell’s depiction of the breakdown of civilization."

In the clip above — disturbing, possibly NSFW, albeit sprinkled with comic bits — Father Barre (Michael Gothard) attempts to extract a confession from Sister Jeanne before moving swiftly on to a public exorcism.

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