This introductory chapter provides an overview of Ken Russell's The Devils (1973). The 1970s proved to be a prolific period for Russell, but the decade closed with both the advent of home video and his slide in reputational and commercial terms, meaning reduced demand was in place for audiences to (re)discover Russell's earlier work via the new small-screen format. Russell's output in the 1980s was largely dismissed by audiences and critics alike, while the following decade saw the director turn out a series of boilerplate TV movies. Little was done in the way of seriously reappraising his body of work until the early 2000s, when his TV films on composers Delius and Elgar were released on DVD and work on a director's cut of The Devils began. While this did not immediately bring about that much interest in Russell's other films, it did prove to be the starting point for The Devils in regaining the recognition which had been absent for the best part of three decades. It is a film which provides plenty of material for analysis and discussion, and while this has always been the case, it is now especially timely given the exposure and acclaim the film has received in recent years.
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