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still from The Devils (Ken Russell, GB 1971)

Witch Night

Koolhoven & Simons: Witch Night

Getting accused of being a witch or possessed by the devil: in the 17th century there was no social media but you could still fall foul of mass hysteria, as proved by Ken Russell’s rarely screened masterpiece The Devils.

poster The Devils (Ken Russell, GB 1971)
One lives with the devil for seven years; the other is said to be cursed by a dissolute priest. In both Jos Stelling’s Mariken van Nieumeghen and Ken Russell’s The Devils, someone has to be the scapegoat – with far-reaching consequences.

Koolhoven & Simons take us to the Middle Ages and the 17th century, when the Church ruled with an iron fist and the people were terrified of the devil, witches and cardinals.An evening with a whiff of brimstone. All about power, sex and death. Hysteria and violence. Ken Russell meets Aldous Huxley; Vannessa Redgrave meets Oliver Reed. Ronnie Montagne meets Sander Bais.

The Devils Ken Russell GB 1971 1'57"

Ken Russell’s baroque masterpiece, with lead roles for Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave, is based on Aldous Huxley’s factual historical novel, The Devils of Loudun. Neurotic nun Jeanne (Vanessa Redgrave) accuses priest Urbain Grandier (Oliver Reed), an infamous womanizer, of entering into a pact with the devil. She says he has cursed her. Cardinal Richelieu intervenes, sending his inquisitors.

Upon its release, the film stirred up great controversy owing to the nudity and violence, and the sensitive religious theme. Russell’s phenomenal sense of style and the acting by Reed and Redgrave remain as stunning as ever; some of the sets were designed by a very young Derek Jarman.

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Ken Russell

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213 min.

Event language



Martin Koolhoven & Ronald Simons







Part of

Koolhoven & Simons

Every month, Koolhoven and Simons will be scrutinizing the genre film, presenting films within pretty forthright themes that have never before been screened at Eye. Expect evenings on Trucker, Grindhouse or Revenge of Nature films. A tribute to rarely screened trailers and forgotten classics, where possible in 35mm, using films from Eye’s collection.

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campaign image Martin Koolhoven & Ronald Simons
still from The Devils (Ken Russell, GB 1971)
still from The Devils (Ken Russell, GB 1971)
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