In 1634 in priest named Urban Grandier was tortured and then burned at the stake after being falsely accused of seducing an entire convent of nuns at Loudun, France. Aldous Huxley wrote a well-researched book about the incident called The Devils of Loudon. Another scholarly work was written by the eminent French historian Michel de Certeau. His book was titled The Possession at Loudon. Both of these books make for grim reading. (I almost couldn't finish Certeau's slim tome.) Then in 1971 British filmmaker Ken Russell got hold of the material and created a disturbing movie - hailed as art by some, heresy and smut by others - that was condemned by the Pope and banned in many Catholic countries. Even in Great Britian, not known for censorship, Russell was forced to cut some scenes before his movie would qualify for an "X" rating. Surprisingly, The Devils racked up several awards at an Italian film festival despite being banned in that country. The story of Father Grandier and Loudun's Ursuline nuns illustrates how religious hysteria compels people into bizarre actions. It is a political story above all else, with French King Louis XIII and the notorious Cardinal Richelieu playing major parts in the proceedings.
This first clip shows director Ken Russell defending The Devils and talking about censorship (and it includes some provocative scenes from the movie). The second clip is a scene from the film that wasn't shown in England or America until many years after The Devils' original release. (Not recommended for those who might take offense at a demented nun's sexual imaginings. It's not porn, not by a long shot - but many will consider it profoundly sacrilegious. I do myself, and I'm as heathen as they come.) There's no way this film would be made today, even though it's based on historical facts. You can't rent the movie through Netflix but some Blockbuster stores still carry it, or you can order it online.