The Devils is a film made by Ken Russell forty years ago. Right from the outset, it ran into trouble from the censors, and still today, it is not available on DVD.
I can understand why it caused such a furore, because it is probably Russell’s masterpiece, and he did not pull any punches. According to this interview with Russell, it’s going to be shown once more in the uncut version at the East End Film festival this coming Sunday. I rather hope that this might lead to a release on DVD. I would rather like to smell, once again, the whiff of brimstone that I recall from seeing the film (even in its cut version) all those years ago.
When it was first released, my best friend (brought up a good Irish Catholic) and his best friend (another Irish Catholic by upbringing) went to see a screening of The Devils. They hadn’t appreciated what the film was about, other than it was set in Medieval times and involved nuns and a priest. So off they went with the friend’s Spanish boyfriend and his extremely devout Catholic mother.
As the film unfolded, and the goings-on on the screen got ever more extravagant, they all shrank back further and further into their seats with ever-wider eyes, and did not dare glance at each other. After the screening, the friend’s mother got straight on the phone to her friends in Spain to warn them against ever seeing this blasphemous film…