S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
In seventeenth-century France, a promiscuous and divisive local
priest, Urbain Grandier (Oliver Reed), uses his powers to protect the city of
Loudun from destruction at the hands of the establishment. Soon he stands
accused of the demonic possession of Sister Jeanne (Vanessa Redgrave), whose
erotic obsession with him fuels the hysterical fervour that sweeps through the
Theatrical Release: July 16th, 1971
DVD Review: BFI (2-disc Special Edition) - Region 2 - PAL
|DVD Box Cover
CLICK to order from:
|BFI - Region 2 - PAL
|1:46:48 (4% PAL Speedup)
Average Bitrate: 7.29 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|English (Dolby Digital 2.0)
• Mark Kermode Introduction (2:04)
• Audio commentary with Ken Russell, Mark Kermode, Mike Bradsell and Paul Joyce
• Amelia and the Angel (Ken Russell, 1958, 25:44): Ken Russell's short film, a delightful mix of religious
allegory and magical fantasy
On-Stage Q+A with Ken Russell (13:00)
Firstly, this is an amazing release by BFI. As advertised this is the DVD premiere presentation of the original UK 'X certificate' version of Ken Russell's The Devils. Fans have been patiently waiting - and this arrival should be strongly considered in our year-end poll.
The anamorphic image looks magnificent - some of the most impressive visuals I have seen in the SD format. Detail and contrast are exemplary. BFI have this housed on a dual-layered PAL DVD and there is not even a pixel out of place. The restoration exports some surprising depth and tight colors. Audio is unremarkable and flat but close, I'll wager, to the way it was produced. Everything is clean and clear - Sir Peter Maxwell Davies' score sound terrific. BFI have seen fit to include optional English subtitles (sample below).
The supplements make for a very complete Special Edition. It starts with a 2-minute optional introduction by Mark Kermode and you may view the film with the choice of indulging in the audio commentary with Ken Russell, Kermode, Mike Bradsell the editor of The Devils and Paul Joyce who is responsible for the 'Hell on Earth' documentary included in the package. Russell starts things off stating that The Devils, like all his films, is based on historical fact, that the principal characters lived and the major events depicted in the film actually took place. Kermode 'chairs' the commentary and there is a ton of great information divulged. I understand that it was recorded previously - years before - we lost Ken Russell in 2011. Also included on the feature DVD disc is Amelia and the Angel Ken Russell's short film, a delightful mix of religious allegory and magical fantasy from 1958 that runs 25-minutes. There is also the, almost 4-minute, original UK trailer and the 52-second US trailer. Disc 2 has Paul Joyce's 48-minute Hell on Earth documentary exploring the film's production and the controversy surrounding its original release. Director of the Devils is a 1971 20-minute documentary featuring candid Ken Russell interviews and unique footage of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies recording his celebrated film score. There is 7.5 minutes of original on-set footage with commentary by editor Mike Bradsell and, lastly, a 13-minute On-Stage Q+A with Ken Russell and Kermode. The package contains an extensive illustrated booklet featuring new essays and notes from Mark Kermode, Craig Lapper (BBFC), Sam Ashby, and others.
NOTE: From Robert in email "Wanted to mention that the
"Hell on Earth" documentary on the BFI release is cut.
NOTE: (From Julian!) "Just a short PS on The Devils extra Hell on Earth. Your correspondent is quite correct to say that we don't get the cut scenes from the film, but I'm pretty certain that there is additional interview material with Russell, which wasn't in the tv programme (which I recorded on VHS, and still have). My memory is that the DVD extra is a different cut of the TV programme in various ways, but I'll check this out for you when I have a moment. Anyway, the notes about this extra in the accompanying DVD booklet are pretty coy about what's missing. When Hell on Earth was broadcast, some kind person took the censored scenes, inserted them into the version of The Devils which is now on the BFI disk and made this available on DVD, which one could buy even via Amazon! However, once the BFI acquired the rights to the film, they suppressed this unofficial release. It's actually not bad looking, but of course not a patch on the BFI DVD. Incidentally, the latest edition of the Journal of British Cinema and Television, which is published by Edinburgh University Press, is devoted to Russell, and contains two articles on The Devils." (Thanks Julian!)
Essential DVD set and our strongest recommendation of the year to-date. The only question is 'why not Blu-ray'? but the DVD transfer is immaculate (NOTE: Warner only agreed to a standard definition release for BFI). Buy with confidence!