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Bad news for fans of THE DEVILS and a plea to Warner for full restoration!!! (1 Viewer)

Anthony Thorne

Supporting Actor
Oct 10, 2000
There's now some disturbing news from Mark Kermode, the documentary-maker and restorationist who assisted Warner on their 'restored' EXORCIST print and produced the outstanding 'Fear of God' documentary on that film. Fans of Ken Russell's THE DEVILS should be fully aware that the film has always suffered substantial cuts (made at the insistence of BBFC examiner James Trevalyn and Warner execs in the States) and has never been released in a 'complete' form on home video. Recently, fans were surprised and gratified to hear that Kermode had finally discovered the original negative of the missing footage, and was working with Russell to assist a restoration of some sort, hopefully (given Warner's non-NC17 policy for Region 1 releases) in a deluxe Region 2 edition for the UK market. Now, frighteningly, the likelihood of fans EVER seeing a complete version of Russell's masterpiece may well be decided in the next couple of weeks.
The footage (apparently a few minutes longer than expected) has been fully scored and is ready for reinstatement into the movie, with Russell's enthusiastic blessing. Warner are now backing away from the restoration they once officially sanctioned and seemingly want to bury that which goes against their current corporate policy. Kermode has been requested to make two different versions of his HELL ON EARTH documentary (one with, and one without the recently found footage) and current indication is that Warner will allow ONLY the shorter version of the doco to appear on the disc, with the footage still excised. To amplify the seriousness of the situation to fans, Warner have allowed ONE broadcast of the full documentary (with the extant footage revealed and discussed) and evidently want it gone and forgotten thereafter.
Even worse, the option of Warner striking the broadcast rights for the rediscovered footage remains open, and Kermode himself is worried as to whether Warner will change their minds. The 'complete' doco is currently scheduled to screen on UK TV in a couple of weeks.
Ken Russell is not getting any younger. The Warner execs who initially sanctioned Kermode's restoration may well be gone in the coming years, leaving the film's reconstruction as an act initiated by an earlier 'regime' and therefore something to be denigrated and ignored by new departmental heads at the company. Warner's restoration and release of THE WILD BUNCH was delayed for years due to the company's misguided insistence of resubmitting the film to the MPAA, negating the original R-Rating and inflicting an NC17 on the movie. THE DEVILS now seems to languish on the brink of an even more hopeless fate, seemingly rescued from its earlier mishandling and then aborted at the brink of full restoration, as Warner choose to reconsider their earlier correct decision.
THE DEVILS could be a major title for Warner. The complete restoration of the film, the inclusion of Kermode's full documentary, a commentary track from Ken Russell - all these things would make the disc a 'must have' for many DVD buyers and would make a major splash in the marketplace. Interest in the film continues to this day, and a restored DVD would find itself the subject of any number of prominent articles, as writers like Glenn Erickson (DVD Savant), Tim Lucas (Video Watchdog), the staff at The Digital Bits, and any number of other online sites and print publications vied to cover what they would likely see as an important restoration. The film would receive a GREAT deal of publicity in this manner above and beyond any advertising Warner used to promote it. Online threads repeatedly show fans eager to buy a complete version of the movie, and the question needs to be asked - how many other 'restorations' receive as much interest and scrutiny as THE DEVILS is currently doing, some 30 years after its initial release? Warner could make money from this release, making profitable that which they have already invested time and effort into restoring for the marketplace. All it takes is the perception to acknowledge the fruitfulness such a restoration will bring. If Warner now finally tries to wash its hands of this movie once and for all, will fans let the company now how they feel, and how eagerly and immediately they would buy a restored DVD of the movie if Warner would only bring it to the marketplace?
Mark Kermode's article, detailing the above (and much more) is available at the following link.


Mar 23, 2000
Why not release the film without any rating? Didn't Universal do this with "American Pie". Or release two versions which would equal more sales - out of curiosity alone.) I've seen "The Devils" the cut footage can't be any worse than what you see in your average slasher film.

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