BFI releases The Devils on DVD in the UK
Ken Russell's The Devils is one of those scandalous movies that can't shake off their bad reputation - even after 40 years! For "The Devils" it's the guys from Warner - the movie's title holder - who have a problem with the movie, especially because of the depiction of sex and violence in a clerical context.
These aspects were the reason for a huge scandal in the year 1971 and also the reason to why the movie was never (theatrically) released in Russell's preferred version. For the British theatrical version they (among other things) had to cut out the infamous "Rape of Christ"-sequence, where "nuns sexually assault and desecrate a statue of Christ" (Wikipedia). This version was released VHS by Warner Bros. in the UK in the so-called Maverick Director Series in the late 90's.
Additional cuts had to be made for the American theatrical version which is the base for both the Spanish DVD released by Warner/Impulso and several later VHS releases in the UK.
For a long time people thought that the "Rape of Christ"-sequence and all the other scenes that had to be taken out for the UK-version were completely lost until the British film historian Mark Kermode found these scenes in a warehouse in 2002; he then used these scenes for his documentary Hell on Earth. In 2004, the British Film Institute released a reconstruction of the movie which - still to this date - is said to be the most "complete" version and which was actually shown in a lot of theatres ever since it was finished.
Now, let's talk about current events: in 2011 the British Film Institute was finally able to agree on a version for home theatre releases with Warner Bros. - this is actually a kind of miracle, since Warner rarely ever licence movies for third parties. The result is a 2-Disc Special Edition which is supposed to be released on 19th of March 2012 on DVD. However, there's a hook: not only did Warner forbid to release the movie on Blu-Ray, they additionally insisted on not using the 2004 reconstruction and especially forbid to show the "Rape of Christ"-sequence. As a consequence, the movie will be released in the regular British theatrical version - which at least still is longer than the US version - and Mark Kermodes documentary Hell on Earth (which will be included in the bonus features) actually had to be re-cut so that all the "inappropriate" material will not be shown.
Sad but true, this still will be the best version released for home theatres thus far; unfortunately, it's pretty vague whether or not the reconstructed version will officially be released in the nearer future, especially since the movie is still kind of a taboo - even after 40 years of it's existence - and thus hasn't been released on DVD in the USA. An already announced "Unrated" DVD was simply crossed out on the release calendar without any official comments on behalf of Warner.
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