13 April 2024

Film Review – Hell On Earth: The Desecration and Resurrection of Ken Russell’s The Devils

Flamboyant and pioneering Director Ken Russell has always made me take notice of his ensuring work since discovering, Lair of the White Worm, when way too young to watch it. )

Once I even brought it up to the great Hugh Grant whilst interviewing him in Sydney, as he appeared in the aforementioned film.

Hugh’s immediate witty response to me that I’ll never forget, You look like someone who watches Ken Russell movies!

I took it as a compliment as we both laughed and continued on.

However, I never saw The Devils, his 1971 film which has delivered fifty-years of controversy that doesn’t look to have diminished at all according to this fabulous documentary.

Presented by Mark Kermode, a self-admitting obsessed Devils admirer, he speaks with Ken at his home alongside an array of cast and filmmakers.

Vanessa Redgrave, in particular is outstanding to listen to her recollections, as is Dudley Sutton, Georgina Hale, Murray Melvin, all explaining the frivolity mixed with the debauchery or frantic style experienced on the pinewood studios set from their director.

Oliver Reed behind the scenes is spectacular footage as is the alarming media headlines happening around Britain at the time, actually it is the reason why people still talk about it today as controversial.

As a movie afficionado it was terrific to reflect with Mark Kermode his passion and scale that the film has been restored in full with once though long-lost scenes returned back into the print for all to view, if you dare.

Long after 1971, Mr. Russell continued to make movies I enjoyed although fully question myself do I recommended them to this day, such as; Crimes of Passion (1984) Gothic (1986) and more.

Desecration and Resurrection… is an excellent conferred piece of film history by an auteur whom will never be forgotten or admired.


Documentary | UK, 2004 | 15 | ARROW Player| Dir.Paul Joyce | Ken Russell, Mark Kermode, Vanessa Redgrave

Follow Shane A.Bassett on Twitter @Movie_analyst

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