The story of one of the most controversial films in history
How did a movie by one of the most famous filmmakers in the world end up banned, censored, and shelved? Made by “the English Federico Fellini,” Ken Russell, The Devils is so contentious that even decades after its 1971 release, Warner Brothers keeps its most incendiary scene under lock and key.
Featuring an exclusive interview with recently deceased director Ken Russell and new interviews with cast, crew, and historians, Raising Hell examines this beautifully blasphemous movie about an oversexed priest and a group of sexually repressed nuns in 17th century France. From the film’s inception through its headline-making production and controversial reception, Richard Crouse explores what it is about Russell’s rarely seen cult classic that makes it a cinematic treasure.
Richard Crouse is the regular film critic for CTV’s Canada AM and CTV’s 24-hour News Channel. His syndicated Saturday afternoon radio show, Entertainment Extra, originates on NewsTalk 1010. He is also the author of six books on pop culture history including Who Wrote the Book of Love and The 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, and writes two weekly columns for Metro newspaper. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.
“Crouse reconstructs The Devils in meticulous detail, from Russell’s arduous shoot to the hysteria surrounding its X-rated release. Arguing for the film’s place at the cutting edge of ’70s cinema.” — Maclean’s
“A great book for film buffs, or anyone interested in learning about how film censorship works and how it has evolved.” — NewsTalk 1010
“Crouse not only tells the reader all the little things people might not know about a film they might not see, but he also provides necessary context to show how the production was borne from a brilliant mind as a result of a culture of madness and disillusionment.” — The Dork Shelf's
“In his entertaining and hyperbolic Raising Hell: Ken Russell and the Unmaking of The Devils, Canadian movie critic Richard Crouse attempts to answer why Russell's 1971 film The Devils — based on a story about an incident of mass hysteria among a convent of nuns in 17th century France — became such a flash point in what would seem to have been an unshockable era.” — Hollywood Reporter
“Nevertheless, Crouse’s book is a fascinating look at a film that very few people have seen, and even fewer have seen as its director intended. Raising Hell is a case study in what transpires when religion and art collide, and it should be read as a cautionary tale in the current climate of culture wars and clashes of civilizations.” — Shakespearean Rag