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(aka "Mother Joan Of the Angels" or "Joan of the Angels" or "The Devil and the Nun")

 

directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz
Poland 1961

 

Based on the documented story of the demonic possession of a group of nuns that led to the burning of a priest at the stake in Loudun, France in 1634 (which also formed the basis for Ken Russell s notorious 1971 film The Devils and provided inspiration to Aldous Huxley for his renowned novel The Devils of Loudun). In acclaimed director Jerzy Kawalerowicz s hands Mother Joan of the Angels is a spare, visually astonishing and profoundly disturbing exploration of faith, repression, fanaticism and sexuality. Aided by an extraordinary performance by Lucyna Winnicka as Mother Joan, Kawalerowicz produces one of cinema s most evocative and intense studies of the tragedy of emotion repressed by dogma.

***

Visually this film is a masterpiece. Spooky and haunting it is an exemplar of how, in filmmaking, less can be so much more. Having received the Jury Prize at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival, "Mother Joan of the Angels" does not fall into that category of ‘lost’ films. However, it is certainly a film that deserves a much better reputation and a wider viewing public. Yes, it does contain exorcism, flagellation and murder but it is the opposite of "The Devils" Ken Russell’s overblown (though wonderful) take on the same story . "Mother Joan" is a quieter, more subdued film and all the more effective for that. Any fan of classics of the strange such as "Nosferatu" and "Witchfinder General" should find much to enjoy in "Mother Joan of the Angels".

***

"Mother Joan of the Angels" is based on the infamous historical episode known as the Possession of Loudon. In the early 17th century in the French town of Loudon a number of nuns from a Ursuline convent were said to be possessed by demons and evil spirits. An investigation by the Church led to a local libertine Father Urbain Grandier being tortured and burnt at the stake. It was alleged that he had regularly been seen seducing and fornicating with the nuns. He was also accused of witchcraft by a demon who spoke through Mother Joan, the head of the convent. The ‘Possession of Loudon’ has inspired artists, writers and filmmakers over the last 100 years and a wide and varied body of work has built up around the episode, including Aldous Huxley’s "The Devils Of Loudon"(1952), John R. Whitting’s "The Devils"(1962), Penderecki’s "The Devils Of Loudon"(1969) and Ken Russell’s "The Devils" (1971). Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s "Mother Joan of the Angels" is not as well-known as a number of these works but fully deserves to stand alongside them.

Excerpt from the Second RUN DVD noates also found HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: Finland 23 February 1962, USA 7 May 1962

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DVD Comparison: 

Second Run DVD - Region 2,4 - PAL vs. Second Run DVD (restored) - Region FREE - PAL

Big thanks to Per-Olof Strandberg for the Review!

Second Run DVD - Region 2,4 - PAL LEFT vs. Second Run DVD (restored) - Region FREE - PAL RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Second Run DVD

Region 2,4 - PAL

Second Run DVD

Region FREE - PAL

Runtime 1:44:58 (4% PAL speedup) 1:45:24 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1:1.33 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.71mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1:1.33 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.87 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
Audio Polish (Dolby Digital 2.0) Polish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Second Run DVD

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Booklet (8 pages)
• DVD-5 (SS-SL)

DVD Release Date: August 8, 2005
Keep Case

Chapters 15

Release Information:
Studio: Second Run DVD

Aspect Ratio: 1.28:1

Edition Details:
• New filmed appreciation by Michael Brooke (21:26)
• 20-page liner notes booklet with essays

DVD Release Date: May 28th, 2012
Transparent Keep Case

Chapters 15

 

Comments ADDITION (restored) May 2012: The new edition is described as 'One of the landmarks of Polish cinema, this celebrated film has now been fully and carefully restored from original materials and is presented here in this beautiful new High-Definition transfer.' Indeed... or in other words 'OMG'. This is a dramatic improvement - a dual-layered transfer from an obvious restored source. We lose all the artifacts of the 2005 DVD - detail, clarity, contrast all take massive leaps forward. Unreal. A HUGE improvement although there is some digitization softness and greenish tinge.

Audio remain authentic and also sounds improved, plus we get supplements including a fabulous new filmed appreciation by Michael Brooke running 21.5 minutes and a 20-page liner notes booklet with essays and photos.

Easily, one of the more desirable DVDs of the year for fans of this film - big thanks to Second Run!

Gary Tooze

***

On the 2005 DVD package:
"Mother Joan of the Angels has been digitally re-mastered and newly subtitled from the best existing source available to us. But, due to the age and condition of the source master, there remains a steady amount of visual noise that could not be removed without compromising the integrity of the whole film."

The best source, unfortunately (the 35 mm negative remains untouched in the cellars of some Polish archive), is from an existing tape, so there are deficiencies due to the limitations of the analog source.

The DVD is mastered from a, probably almost 30 year old, tape and since then, the equipment to transfer films to tape source has improved a lot. You can't improve the picture on a bad quality tape master, even though you have the best digital restoring program. What is an old and relatively weak transfer, remains so. Only if you create a new tape from the original film elements you can improve it.

It is unfortunate that this appeared on DVD in this condition. Though, it actually looks a little bit better in movement, than on the screen caps. If you do have it on VHS, it's probably the same source material used. We do thank Second Run for making this available in the digital format and the film is highly recommended!

 - Per-Olaf Strandberg

 


Menus

 

Second Run DVD - Region 2,4 - PAL LEFT vs. Second Run DVD (restored) - Region FREE - PAL RIGHT
 

 

 


Screen Captures

 

Second Run DVD - Region 2,4 - PAL TOP vs. Second Run DVD (restored) - Region FREE - PAL BOTTOM

 

 


Second Run DVD - Region 2,4 - PAL TOP vs. Second Run DVD (restored) - Region FREE - PAL BOTTOM

 

 


Second Run DVD - Region 2,4 - PAL TOP vs. Second Run DVD (restored) - Region FREE - PAL BOTTOM

 

 


Second Run DVD - Region 2,4 - PAL TOP vs. Second Run DVD (restored) - Region FREE - PAL BOTTOM

 

 


Second Run DVD - Region 2,4 - PAL TOP vs. Second Run DVD (restored) - Region FREE - PAL BOTTOM

 

 


Second Run DVD - Region 2,4 - PAL TOP vs. Second Run DVD (restored) - Region FREE - PAL BOTTOM

 

 


  Second Run DVD - Region 2,4 - PAL TOP vs. Second Run DVD (restored) - Region FREE - PAL BOTTOM

 

 

 

DVD Box Cover

 

Distribution

Second Run DVD

Region 2,4 - PAL

Second Run DVD

Region FREE - PAL




 




 

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