Auteur Publishing return with the next release in the successful Devil’s Advocates line of books. The first book-length consideration of Ken Russell’s most controversial film THE DEVILS, the complete version of which remains unseen to this day.
Undoubtedly the most notorious title in director Ken Russell s controversial filmography, THE DEVILS (1973) caused a real furore on its initial theatrical release, only to largely disappear for many years. This Devil’s Advocate considers the film’s historical context, as the timing of the first appearance of THE DEVILS is of particular importance, released as it was in the aftermath of moral panics surrounding A CLOCKWORK ORANGE and STRAW DOGS (both 1971).
The film’s authorship and adaptation (Russell’s auteur reputation aside, the screenplay is based on John Whiting s 1961 play of the same name, which was in turn based on Aldous Huxley s 1952 book The Devils of Loudun) are scrutinised, as is its generic hybridity.
Darren Arnold goes on to examine the themes prevalent in what is considered to be the director’s only overtly political film, and considers the representation of gender and sexuality, gender fluidity, and how sex and religion clash to interesting and controversial effect. He concludes by revisiting the film’s censorship travails and the various versions of THE DEVILS which have appeared on both big and small screens, the film’s legacy and influence.
Author Darren Arnold is a writer and film critic whose writing has been published in Sight & Sound, Metro and Hotdog magazine, and who has contributed to a number of books on horror cinema.