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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by Ken Russell
UK 1971

 

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 convent.

With its bold and brilliant direction by Ken Russell, magnificent performances by Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave, exquisite Derek Jarman sets and sublimely dissonant score by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, The Devils stands as a profound and sincere commentary on religious hysteria, political persecution and the corrupt marriage of church and state.

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Theatrical Release: July 16th, 1971

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DVD Review: BFI (2-disc Special Edition) - Region 2 - PAL

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Distribution BFI - Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 1:46:48 (4% PAL Speedup)
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
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.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• 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
• Original UK trailer (3:47)
• Original US trailer (:52)

Disc 2
• Hell on Earth (Paul Joyce, 2002, 48:14): documentary exploring the film's production and the controversy surrounding its original release
• Director of the Devils (1971, 21:46): documentary featuring candid Ken Russell interviews and unique footage of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies recording his celebrated film score
• Original on-set footage with commentary by editor Mike Bradsell (7:35)

On-Stage Q+A with Ken Russell (13:00)
• Fully illustrated booklet featuring new essays and notes from Mark Kermode, Craig Lapper (BBFC), Sam Ashby, and others

DVD Release Date:
March 19th, 2012
Keep Case
Chapters: 12

 

Comments:

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.

The original version aired on Channel 4 in the UK, prior to a broadcast of the feature film a few years ago.

On the current dvd, when the editor puts in the video tape at Ken Russell's house to show him the "Rape of Christ" sequence, only a few seconds of it is shown. In the broadcast version of the documentary, it goes on for about two minutes and is more explicit.

You'll notice, in Mark Dermody's introduction on the dvd, he says Warner's would not license the complete version of the movie. So, he must have been required to cut the footage from the documentary.

As to the feature film itself on the dvd, compared to the broadcast version, the BFI release adds additional footage to Vanessa Redgrave's scene with the charred bone near the end some of which was missing from the UK screening
." (Thanks Robert!)

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!  

Gary W. Tooze

 


DVD Menus


 

Disc 2


 


Subtitle Sample

 

 


 

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DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution BFI - Region 2 - PAL



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