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Ken Russell's The Devils on 2-disc DVD Special Edition in March

6 February 2012

Well we knew it was coming, thanks to an earlier BFI press release announcing the fact, but now we have the details and it's time to really start getting excited.

Forty years ago, The Devils caused outrage amongst audiences and critics after one of the longest-running battles with the BBFC was resolved and the film finally opened in cinemas. Now recognised as a landmark in British film history, The Devils finally gets its DVD premiere on 19th March, released by the BFI in the original UK X certificate version, accompanied by a wealth of new and exciting extra features and a 44-page illustrated booklet.

The Devils is based on John Whiting's stage play and Aldous Huxley's novel. In 17th century France, a promiscuous and divisive local priest, Urbain Grandier (Oliver Reed), uses his powers to protect the city of Loudun from destruction by 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 Ken Russell's bold and brilliant direction, magnificent performances by Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave, exquisite Derek Jarman sets and a 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.

The death of director Russell in November of last year sparked an outpouring of tributes from both the film industry and fans. This 2-disc Special Edition release of what many consider to be his greatest work is a justly fitting tribute to one of Britain's true mavericks.

The Devils will make its UK DVD premiere as a 2-disc Special Edition on 19th March 2012 from the BFI at the RRP of £19.99.

Featuring the original UK X certificate version, the release will have the following extras:

  • Newly filmed introduction with broadcaster and critic Mark Kermode (2012, 2 mins);
  • Audio commentary with Ken Russell, Mark Kermode, editor Michael Bradsell and Paul Joyce;
  • Hell on Earth (Paul Joyce, 2002, 48 mins): documentary exploring the film's production and the controversy surrounding its original release;
  • Director of Devils (1971, 22 mins): 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 Michael Bradsell (2012, 8 mins);
  • On-stage Q&A with Ken Russell (2012, 13 mins): an excerpt from a conversation with Mark Kermode filmed at the National Film Theatre in 2004;
  • Amelia and the Angel (1958, 26 mins): Ken Russell's second short, made by the BFI's Experimental Film Fund, a delightful mix of religious allegory and magical fantasy;
  • Original UK trailer;
  • Original US trailer;
  • 44-page illustrated booklet featuring new essays from Mark Kermode, Craig Lapper (BBFC), Michael Bradsell and Sam Ashby, plus film notes, biographies and credits.

In memory of Ken Russell and to celebrate the release of The Devils on DVD, the 'Director's Cut' of the film will be shown at BFI Southbank on Monday 19 March at 8.00pm in NFT1. A panel of experts and members of the cast and crew will take part in a discussion afterwards.