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THE DEVILS...a petition to Warner

WANYON
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January 22nd, 2007, 11:37 am #1

Ok...i don't know whether you are fans of Ken Russell or whether you are not. I don't care. What i DO care about though is seeing a frail old man who is desperate to see his masterwork released on DVD in restored and remastered form get constantly disregarded by Warner. Ken Russell is not getting any younger. This film NEEDS to not just be re-released, but to be granted the full Special Edition treatment. Warner, like every company, is out to make money and in this current climate where even mainstream audiences are paying money by the wagon-load to see NC-17 level horro fare and controversial subject matter they should see that releasing THE DEVILS in a full-strength restored edit would be a wise move especially when hyped well.

The website www.savagemessiah.com, THE source for Ken Russell news and back-history, has a petition on their site aimed at getting the film the treatment it deserves so Ken and all his fans worldwide can appreciate this film. Not just appreciate it AGAIN, but appreciate it for the first time EVER in its original (near)uncut form.

So, i am making the request to ALL of you on here...there are 64+ registered members on here...PLEASE kindly pay a quick visit to www.savagemessiah.com, find the petition form and add your name! Do YOUR bit for getting this petition bumped up and up with signatures so Ian Fisher (who runs the site) can send it off someday soon with a good amount of names tied to it. He currently has 362 signatures, but only 1000+ will do, i am sure...

GET OVER THERE AS SOON AS YOU HAVE READ THIS AND THEN REPLY HERE STATING SIMPLY "I have added my name", SO I CAN SEE WHO HAS AND WHO HASN'T!

And, thankyou once again for supporting important cinematic causes like this...
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ajji
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January 22nd, 2007, 12:10 pm #2

you don't have to ask me twice, mate. i'll be over there in a jiffy.

meanwhile, why not post this on IMDb (Film General, Classic Film, Horror, Cult and any other board you think this films qualifies for, as well it's own message board page)? i'm sure you'll get a lot of attention there as well.

let's make it happen!
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cinehound
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January 22nd, 2007, 4:40 pm #3

SAVAGE MESSIAH looks a great site, and the strange thing is they provide a Russian version too. I need to browse it more.

But I didn't find that petition page, sometimes is in front of you and you can't see it, could you give the exact petition page URL? Thanx !!
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ajji
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January 23rd, 2007, 5:52 am #4

@cinehound:
when the homepage of www.savagemessiah loads up, click on 'hot news', then when the page loads, scroll down to where it says 'petition for The Devils on DVD', and just click on the picture.
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cinehound
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January 23rd, 2007, 1:44 pm #5

Thanx ajji !!

I've done that already, signature #366...
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WANYON
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January 23rd, 2007, 8:33 pm #6

Thankyou guys.

Let's keep those signatures coming folks! All it takes is filling in your name and email address, along with some reasons why you believe Ken Russell's masterpiece should be released by Warner on DVD...so PLEASE add your names to this great cause!!!

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I.V.C._doctor
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January 24th, 2007, 2:59 am #7

There goes another one!mine is 368.
THE DEVILS is one of my all time favorites!!!An uncut version seems like a dream!!
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WANYON
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January 24th, 2007, 9:49 am #8

It will probably NEVER get seen in it's COMPLETE uncut version, as they found the 'Rape of Christ' sequence, the fellatio on Grandier's charred thigh-bone footage and also some random snippets of nuns going wild (most likely, these snippets were not intended in the film and were just normal edits) but there are still some other small bits of cut footage that are missing that were not present in the can of film that Kermode stumbled across. These include the couple of seconds that were trimmed from Grandier's leg torture and also, i believe, the 'shit on the altar' footage that was cut from Vanessa Redgrave's public enema (when the guy declares "the Devil left the Holy Mother at precisely" (whatever time it was) or something like that, originally there were shots of fecal matter on the altar, which was the pay-off to the scene (and the joke), but it was cut before the film was released also and has yet to materialise.

Still, the version that will HOPEFULLY be restored and released someday soon is as close to Ken Russell's original vision of the film as possible and i believe Ken was totally happy with the idea of releasing it in that form as the other stuff was so minor that he was happy that the major cut stuff had been found and could be put back in...

So, while not 100% complete if it ever gets restored and put out on DVD, it would more than likely be endorsed 100% by the director as representing his 'Director's Cut'...
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I.V.C._doctor
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January 24th, 2007, 12:42 pm #9

These small bits you mention are lost?No one has them in any form of film or video?
If that so then its a pity.
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WANYON
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January 25th, 2007, 12:56 pm #10

Nope. All know video and laserdisc editions have been variants on either the American version or the original British cinema version. The British cinema version was pre-cut prior to it being seen officially by the British Board of Film Censors at the time when John Trevelyan (then Chief censor at the BBFC) asked Russell if he could preview it ahead of his board due ot his fears that the film would be so extreme in its subject matter that his board may very well refuse it outright rather than cut it. After seeing it, Trevelyan suggested to Russell that some minor cuts be made to the film or it may well get banned. The main suggestion was that the 'Rape of Christ' sequence be eliminated in its entirety. Russell begrudgingly made the cut, understanding the Chief censor's reasoning for this cut and hoping that the board would then judge his film a little more fairly. When the BBFC board saw it for classification, they insisted on further cuts, including the 'shit on the altar' stuff, Grandier's legs getting tortured with wooden wedges (reduced to almost subliminal imagery now in the final cut of the film), his tongue being pierced with a needle, Redgrave fellating his charred leg-bone before masturbating with it and i believe some brief extra shots during his burning.
When the Americans saw it though, they were even more demanding. I believe it was a combination of Warner executives and the MPAA that insisted on further cuts, including all full-frontal nun nudity and the cutting back of Grandier's burning to the point where it is a pale version of the full-strength edit of this climax.

For years, in the UK and USA and alot of other places, the only versions circulating on home entertainment format were the severely compromised American cinema release version. I recall the very first time i ever saw the original British cinema release version (which was cut by around a minute, plus the minute or so of the 'Rape of Christ' sequence), was on a German TV channel where they showed it in something like a 1.66:1 ratio and dubbed. Still, it was awesome to see this longer edit for the first time! A year or so later, the film was cleaned up and shown in this version also on one of the BBC channels here in the UK, with an introduction by then-Chief censor James Ferman (which i included as an extra on my 2-disc DVD-R set of THE DEVILS that i put together). It was shown at around 1.80:1 and was in great shape...
Not long after that broadcast, it was released by Warner as part of their 'Maverick Directors' VHS series in the same British cinema version that the BBC had shown, which was the base print for the composite i made up. Still missing that minute or two after all these years, it was the only way to see something CLOSE to Russell's original vision and the best way to see the most complete print ever available.
For many years (since the late-1970s or early-1980s in fact) Russell had been scouring vaults and archives for the missing footage, to no avail. His last attempt at finding it was when he finally gave up the search and asked the film's editor whether he may have it lying around somewhere, which turned up nothing also. Kermode took up the search a few years ago and was granted access to Warner's vaults and, after he was just about to give up the search after a long time scouring through everything, he stumbled across a can that had no label on it. When he opened this can of film, he found inside a reel of missig footage...a bloody miracle if ever there was such a thing!
The 'Rape of Christ' sequence was present in its entirety, as was the missing footage from Redgrave's bone-blow job. Also, some minor snippets that were maybe cut for pacing rather than censored. Unfortunately, it was mentioned that a few bits and pieces of cut footage were NOT present in that can. These include the few seconds of Grandier's leg torture (which were probably a second or two of footage per cut, so maybe these were disgarded) and the 'shit on the altar' climax (which i can't recall even being mentioned in the HELL ON EARTH documentary when Kermode talks of the cuts made to the film and the footage they had unearthed, so i am presuming it was not present or would have been mentioned)...

Back around 2 years ago, the film was restored (not properly, but more like a rough composite) for a one-off screening in London. The restored footage lacked original audio so soundtrack from elsewhere in the film was layed over the footage to integrate it better apparently. This is the ONLY time the near-uncut/near-complete 'Director's Cut' of the film has EVER been broadcast anywhere in the world! If i had known it was to be screened, i would have made the trip to Londo myself and made sure i was there, but i only found out about it after that fact when i stumbled across news of it online. Russell and Kermode were present for the screening, as were a few Warner executives and paying public.

I doubt VERY much that the few seconds of Grandier's leg torture will be seen again, as the cuts were so small that the footage was surely binned. They are not important anyway, as the scene still works and represents Russell's vision, if slightly trimmed. As for the 'shit on the altar' climax...who knows. Russell spent many years searching for all this footage and failed. Kermode searched some years later and stumbles across the footage just as he was giving up. So, i doubt anyone will bother spending time searching for one small pice of footage after the majority of it has been found and considering how long it took to find THAT stuff. So, i think if Warner ever greenlight a Special Edition of THE DEVILS, it will be 99.9% complete and uncut, but will still lack those tiny little snippets that are really not too important anyway...

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