Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
United Kingdom, 1971. Russo Productions. Screenplay by Ken Russell, based on the play by John Whiting, from the novel The Devils of Loudon by Aldous Huxley. Cinematography by David Watkin. Produced by Ken Russell, Robert H. Solo. Music by Peter Maxwell Davies. Production Design by Derek Jarman. Costume Design by Shirley Russell. Film Editing by Michael Bradsell.
The other fantastic film that Ken Russell made (besides Women In Love) is this brilliant tale of religious persecution and debauchery, based on the play by John Whiting which was taken from the novel The Devils of Loudon by Aldous Huxley. In order to take complete control of medieval France’s world of religion, Cardinal Richelieu (Christopher Logue) must first get rid of the obstinate priest (Oliver Reed) whose well-protected city is the key element in the Cardinal’s plan. Using a sexually obsessed, hunchback nun (Vanessa Redgrave) against him, the religious conspirators lay charges of witchcraft and demonic powers on the priest, taking advantage of his sexually liberal relationships with young women and denouncing him as a devil worshiper. Enter Michael Gothard as a dedicated priest who arrives to hold the trial that will decide Reed’s fate. Terrific camera work, thrillingly perverse visuals and totally odd characterizations make this a totally original experience, a real treat for fans of such films as Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist. Redgrave has never been seen in so flagrantly unholy a role, and she occupies it with bloodthirsty relish.