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  • Adaptation Displacement: You probably have not read Aldous Huxley's The Devils of Loudun or the John Whiting play The Devils, both used as sources for the film.
  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": This is the movie where crazy nuns have an orgy in the temple. And in the uncut version then they rape a statue of Jesus.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Pierre Barre is clearly mentally ill. His actor, Michael Gothard, suffered from severe depression for much of his life and ultimately took his own life.
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  • He Really Can Act: These days it's held up as the finest performance of Oliver Reed's career (or at least very close).
  • Hollywood Homely:
    • Sister Jeanne states that most of the nuns came to the convent because they were too old and ugly to be marriageable, yet as Roger Ebert observes in the page quote, the nuns are all young and voluptuous.
    • Sister Jeanne herself. Even with the hunchback, she's still Vanessa Redgrave.
  • Jerkass Woobie: It would be very easy to write Sister Jeanne off as a despicable Yandere - which she is. But she's been born with a hunchback and feels she is ugly and deformed. It's hard not to feel sorry for her in her fantasy of being Mary Magdalene to Grandier's Christ — and her hump is revealed, causing everyone to laugh and taunt her.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Arguably Grandier, who ruthlessly games the system and while seducing and abandoning women...but still comes off as the most charismatic and engaging (if not exactly likeable) character in the film.
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  • Nightmare Fuel: The torture that Grandier has to go through — getting all his hair and eyebrows shaved off, having both legs broken and finally being burned at the stake. He even has to suffer through the whole burning, as the soldier who promised to strangle him as a Mercy Kill doesn't get there in time.
  • Offending the Creator's Own: The religious right accused Ken Russell of making a film about blasphemy for exploitative reasons, even though Russell was a devout Catholic.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Gemma Jones makes her film debut as Madeleine.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The message of corrupt religion and how it manipulates and destroys the weak to further its own ends? There's a pretty heavy anvil right there.
  • Squick: Sister Jeanne's sexual fantasies, the exorcism sequences, the Rape of Christ... The exorcism in particular was described in Huxley's book as "equivalent to a rape in a public lavatory" and the film takes that sentence as stage directions.
  • Stoic Woobie:
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    • Grandier remains unbelievably stoic and strong, despite the sheer hell he's put through.
    • Madeleine too, considering she deals with forbidden love and wants to devote her life to God — but becomes the target of an angry Yandere like Sister Jeanne.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • Right before Grandier's Traumatic Haircut, he asks for a mirror. Just because he wants to look at himself one last time as a free man.
    • At the very end, Madeleine walks through the ruins of the town past all the other people put to death because of the events of the film.
  • Vindicated by History: When it was first released, it was banned in some countries, boycotted in others, and given a rare zero star rating by Roger Ebert. It was re-evaluated in the 2000s and both Mark Kermode and Alex Cox included it in their lists of the ten most important films ever made. It's widely considered one of Ken Russell's best films, and Oliver Reed's strongest performance. It now has a 75% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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