Russell's contentious 1971 classic The
Devils will finally see release on DVD
next year - the first home viewing release since
the VHS edition of the late 1990s. However, fans
hoping to see the complete version - a reasonable
hope given the relatively recent theatrical screenings
of the reconstructed version at the National Film
Theatre - will be sorely disappointed.
For reasons that are not immediately apparent
– but which are clearly connected to Warner
Brothers’ continual distaste for the film
in general and the infamous ‘rape of Christ’
scene in particular – the BFI release will
be the original theatrical X-rated edition, as
mangled by the BBFC forty years ago. What a pisser.
On the plus side, the release is at least packed
with extra content – a newly filmed introduction
with director Ken Russell; audio commentary with
Russell, Mark Kermode (oh dear…), Mike Bradsell
and Paul Joyce; the Channel 4 Hell on
Earth documentary (presumably also now
missing the cut scenes that were originally featured);
Director of the Devils, a 1971
documentary; original on-set footage with commentary
by editor Mike Bradsell; Russell’s 1958
short Amelia and the Angels;
UK & US trailers; and a booklet. A solid selection
that might just take your mind off the
fact that this is a needlessly truncated print.
Let’s hope that in the meantime, public
pressure can convince Warners to relent and allow
the full version to be included – or at
least consider a future uncut blu-ray edition.