The Devils, the controversial film by the late director Ken Russell, is to receive its first DVD release in March, thanks to the BFI. The film was originally made for the cinema in 1971, but the release was held up due to disagreements with the BBFC over the film’s content. However, despite the controversy surrounding The Devils at the time of its original release, the film has gone on to secure a strong reputation amongst both critics and film fans, which is likely to ensure healthy sales of DVD copies.
Russell’s film is an adaptation of a play by John Whiting and a novel by Aldous Huxley. It stars Oliver Reed, then one of the biggest names in British cinema, as Urbain Grandier, a priest accused of putting Sister Jeanne – played by Vanessa Redgrave – under demonic possession. The BFI has confirmed that the two-disc DVD release will be of the original UK cinema version – rated X certificate – and that, as usual with BFI releases, it will boast a range of special features.
Amongst the lavish bonus features to be included on the DVD are both the British and American trailers, two documentaries, exclusive footage from the set, an early short film by Russell, audio commentaries and a 44 page booklet of essays and photographs. The fact that devotees of cinema have waited so long for DVD copies of the film to be made available, coupled with the quality of this release, could well combine to make it a strong seller.