The Devils

  • Directors: Ken Russell
  • Producers: Ken Russell, Robert H Solo
  • Writers: Ken Russell, Aldous Huxley, John Whiting
  • Genres: Drama, History, Horror
  • Actors: Oliver Reed, Vanessa Redgrave, Dudley Sutton, John Woodvine, Gemma Jones

Note: This plot is for the non-censored version of the film. Some scenes described below are omitted from other versions.

In 17th Century France, Cardinal Richelieu (Christopher Logue) is influencing Louis XIII (Graham Armitage) in an attempt to gain further power. He convinces Louis that the fortifications of cities throughout France should be demolished to prevent Protestants from uprising. Louis agrees, but forbids Richelieu from carrying out demolitions in the town of Loudun, having made a promise to its governor not to damage the town.

Meanwhile, in Loudun, the Governor has died, leaving control of the city to Urbain Grandier (Oliver Reed), a dissolute and proud but popular and well-regarded priest. He is having an affair with a relative of Father Canon Mignon (Murray Melvin), another priest in the town, unaware that the deformed, neurotic Sister Jeanne (Vanessa Redgrave), head of the local convent, is sexually obsessed with him. She asks for Grandier to become the convent’s new confessor. Grandier secretly marries another woman, Madeline De Brou (Gemma Jones), but news of this reaches Sister Jeanne, driving her to insanity (this includes an attack where Sister Jeanne viciously attacks Madeleine when the latter brings back a book that the former had lent her, and Sister Jeanne accuses Madeleine of being a “sacrilegious bitch”, among other things).

After the execution, Barre leaves to continue his activities elsewhere (the place mentioned by Laubardemont to Sister Jeanne is nearby Poitier). Laubardemont informs Sister Jeanne that Mignon has been put away in a sanatorium for claiming that Grandier was innocent (the explanation given is that he is demented), and that “with no signed confession to prove otherwise, everyone has the same opinion”. He gives her one of Grandier’s charred bones and leaves. Sister Jeanne, now completely broken, masturbates pathetically with the charred femur. Grandier’s wife, having been released is seen walking away from the ruined city as the film ends.

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