|The Film Begins With Louis XIII Giving A Show For Cardinal Richelieu|
|Then It Goes Here: “And may the Protestant be driven from the land.”|
The film focuses on an outspoken and unorthodox priest named Urbain Grandier (Oliver Reed) and a sexually frustrated hunchback nun named Sister Jeanne (Vanessa Redgrave). The two of them reside in a city that managed to broker a peace between Catholic and Protestant. Richelieu is hell bent on centralizing France under himself and the king who really doesn’t care, but can’t be ignore. With the death of the city’s former leader and his successor being Grandier, Richelieu looks for his opportunity to crush this defiant city. Sister Jeanne has a crush on Grandier and when she just can’t take it anymore she makes an unofficial deal to pretend to have been corrupted by satanically possessed Grandier.
|Sister Jeanne’s Sexual Fantasy With Grandier Stepping In For Jesus|
This is when Father Barre (Michael Gothard) shows up to perform the exorcism. In fact, he is there to take advantage of women in anyway he sees fit. In her case, they inject some stuff up her vagina. Threatened at gunpoint, the rest of the nuns admit to having infected by Grandier and thus begins the grand orgy sequence.
|Father Barre (Michael Gothard)|
|She’s Having Fun|
The best part of the orgy sequence is when the king shows up. He claims that he has a box with the blood of Christ in it. He asks whether that would be enough to drive out the devils. Barre says yes and proceeds to use it. They are all cured. Barre hands it back to the king who opens it up to reveal that it is empty and he laughs.
From there you can gather the direction the plot goes in. The film has the graphic content of Pasolini, the grotesque of Fellini, and one of Buñuel’s favorite target: organized religion. This movie is a powerful reminder of the dangers of church and state collusion in addition to the horrors that occur when religion is used as a weapon and a tool to manipulate people. I highly recommend it.