Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Rape of Christ

Imagine a film by a top "auteur" director so controversial that even today, with our "evolved" sensibilities, Warner Brothers can't release it in its uncut entirety.

The film, made in 1971, is Ken Russell's The Devils and Richard Crouse, film critic, has written about it in:

I haven't finished the book yet - I'm about half way through - but I am enjoying Raising Hell so much that I have to write about it.

I've become obsessed with the film and the story of 1634 Loudun, France, where a group of nuns, allegedly possessed by the Devil, along with the inquisition, conspired(?) to get Urbain Grandier (played by Oliver Reed in the film) tortured and burned at the stake.  Aldous Huxley wrote about this history in the non-fiction book:


The Devils, the film, is full of notable scenes like this ONE, where Sister Jeanne (played by Vanessa Redgrave) imagines she's being ravished, maybe even raped, by Christ just off the cross, but the one scene that is maybe too provocative for our "evolved" sensibilities is called the Rape of Christ.

In short and to the point, the Rape of Christ scene is basically an orgy scene - orgy is such a 1970s word - involving nuns that has been described by an eye witness in the 1634 book: The History of The Devils of Loudun: The Alleged Possession of the Ursuline Nuns, and the Trial and Execution of Urban Grandier as follows:
           [The nuns] struck their chests and backs with their heads, as if they had their necks broken, and with inconceivable rapidity; they twisted their arms at the joints of the shoulder, the elbow or wrist, two or three times around.... their eyes remained open without blinking....  Their tongues issued suddenly from their mouths, horribly swollen, black, hard and covered with pimples....  They uttered cries so horrible and so loud that nothing like it was ever heard before.  They made use of expressions so indecent as to shame the most debauched of men, while their acts, both in exposing themselves and inviting lewd behavior from those present, would have astonished the inmates of the lowest brothels in the country.
(Quoted from Richard Crouse's Raising Hell)

The description above is worthy of William Peter Blatty.

Crouse does a excellent job explaining how the Rape of Christ scene went down. 

Coincidentally, I recently asked myself, whatever happened to Derek Jarman, the director of Edward II--a significant film for me.  The answer, oddly enough, came in Raising Hell.

Ken Russell, it should be noted, also directed Altered States, Gothic, The Lair of the White Worm and some other films which can be described as soft core porn.

Prediction: Warner Brothers will release The Devils, in its uncut entirety, within five years.

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