There’s a scene in Ken Russell’s long-controversial, rarely-screened-in-its-entirety film, The Devils, wherein Urbain Grandier (Oliver Reed) riotously exclaims, “Don’t look at me! Look at your city! If your city is destroyed, your freedom is destroyed also. If you would remain free men, fight. Fight them or become their slaves.” By the time this speech unfolds, we have seen Grandier become the victim of Otherness, a martyr to hypocrisy and the lies of men, and an image of what it means to push the limits of social acceptance. For a film that has been accused of various levels of indecency for over four decades – where The Devils now lacks in its ability to shock via its viscera or willingness to expose pubic hair to the masses, it manages to shock in its capacity to mirror both the ideology of the time in which it was produced, as well as our own. It’s not often that a film which takes place in the 17th century can be considered prescient.
Tag: Ken Russell
Written by Andy Dimond
US, 1980. Rated R. 102 min. Cast: William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban, Charles Haid, Thaao Penghlis,Charles White-Eagle, Drew Barrymore, John Laroquette; Music: John Corigliano; Cinematography: Jordan Cronenweth; Written by Paddy Chayefsky (as Sidney Aaron); Directed by Ken Russell.
Like most of Ken Russellâ€™s movies, Altered States is a strange, phantasmagoric spectacle, and like many of them, itâ€™s a (very loose) biopic. Not of a classical musician this time, but of John C. Lilly, a government neurophysician who became one of the first, and freakiest, pioneers of consciousness research.