Friday, July 26, 2013

" The Devils" (1971) d/ Ken Russell

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Before the inevitable influx of knee jerk religious zealotry comes raining down on this post, I've scheduled some flagellation in my personal fornicatory at the hands of twin raven-haired Wop-ettes in nun costumes for myself, having allowed such a blasphemous and incendiary piece of cinematic filth to slither it's evil way among my list of all-time favorite movies. Yea, though I greatly admire the powerful visual style of directorial conspirator, Ken Russell, who also hath writ the screenplay ( based upon the Aldous Huxley novel, The Devils of Loudon),  I shall also give thanks and praise to the dramatic contributions of those actors who would bring these shocking images to light, specifically Oliver Reed, though Michael Gothard, Dudley Sutton, Gemma Jones, and a hunchbacked Vanessa Redgrave all compliment Reed in supporting roles here. Riveting, disturbing stuff whose punch has lost very little, if any, potency, despite the passing of forty-plus years and countless censor's cuts, though one should pay heed to the poster's warning, as this is definitely not a film for every one...

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I had a hunch that Sister Jeanne (Vanessa Redgrave) would be back...
The time is the seventeenth century, the place is France. At one of King Louis XIII's less masculine get together's, Cardinal Richelieu is buzzing about uppity protestants, suggesting the country's city fortifications all be torn down, to which the monarch agrees, excluding the town of Loudon, of course, as he had made a promise not to do such a thing, to it's governor, in the past. Only the governor has since turned his toes up, leaving the city's control in the hands of Urbain Grandier(Reed), a priest who's as insatiable for political power as he is for snug cunny, as evidenced by the number of Loudon women who daydream about receiving the holy in-out from him (even hunchbacked women of the cloth like Sister Jeanne(Redgrave) wouldn't mind drying his feet after a lengthy water walk with their scarlet tresses), and the growing number of rival priest's daughters suddenly pregnant at his doing is nothing to sneeze at, either.

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"Take this spear wound, all of you, and lick obscenely at it, as though it were a vagina.", whispers dream-Jesus(Ollie Reed).
When an elitist Baron's (Sutton) attempt to carry out orders to bring down Loudon's walls are thwarted by a steadfast Grandier, backed by the city's army, he joins forces with Father Mignon (Murray Melvin), whose pregnant daughter has been rejected by Grandier. Meanwhile, Grandier has secretly married another woman (Jones), the news of which bodes ill upon the fragile psyche of Sister Jeanne, who implicates the priest in all manner of blasphemous charges to Mignon und Baron, who, in turn, enlists the services of a lanky drink of water inquisitor named Father Barre (Gothard) to get to the bottom of it all, even if it means pumping foul enemas up the asses of every nun at the convent in doing so.The King shows up in disguise during an exorcism, claiming to have a relic containing the blood of Christ to use in the cleansing spiritual rite, but after Barre appears to have used it successfully to clear the sisters of demons, the monarch flips it open to reveal it was empty in the first place. Good one, Louie. The still-"possessed" sisters pull the crucified statue of Christ from the wall and rape it in every conceivable manner, to celebrate. Grandier and his wife return just in time to catch the party, and are subsequently taken into custody by the Baron's soldiers. All that follows, you should really experience for yourselves.

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Q: How many of these women are committing blasphemy? A: Nun.
Religious faith is a funny thing. Some people are content to believe what they believe and carry on their lives in a relatively normal fashion, while some treat their faith as an elitist badge of authority over others who don't share them, and some commit unspeakable crimes against their fellow man within the protective umbrella of their religious teachings. Who's wrong? Who's right? Let 'em scrap it out among themselves until the end of time if it's so important to them to find out what's waiting for them after they're gone. I'm more focused on enjoying the finer things in what life I've got left to live, with the people I care about, that care about me. I think if everybody gave that a shot,  we might be alright, after all. But we're just humans, hahaha. So we won't. I'd be more worried that you didn't give The Devils a shot, though, as it really is an extraordinary film, worth all the discourse and analysis one could possibly invest in it, and then some. Once you have, let me know what you think. Obviously, four wops.

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"Is it too late to pass on martyrdom for the five quid and what's behind curtain number two?"
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