Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Devils

Ken Russell 
Pinewood Studios London 1971

Released forty five years ago today, it was dismissed by most American critics as yet another of Ken’s self indulgent spectacles.  Stanley Kauffman called it a swirling multicolored puddle, but he greatly admired Oliver Reed’s majestic portrayal of Father Grandier just the same.  As well he should have. Time has been much kinder to it than most of the films released around that time.  People still marvel at it, from its staggeringly grotesque performances (particularly those of Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Gothard and Murray Melvin) to the monumental set designs by Derek Jarman.  It’s depictions of religious hysteria are more than well balanced with images of genuine serenity and passion.  It is kind of a great film.

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