This has nothing to do with the reality of the so called devils of Loudun and the case of the local vicar Urbain Grandier and his conflict with Cardinal Richelieu, eventually leading to his burning at the stake. This is an entirely Polish paraphrase on the phenomenon set somewhere in the wilderness in an apocalyptic landscape of desolation with no trees, no music except monastic monodies, sterile surroundings and a bleak environment, like changing the whole situation into some dark medieval times. Instead, this is a thoroughly stylistic film using the obsession of the nuns for ballet-like performances of striking cinematography and efficient beauty, while there is no actual story here. A young priest comes to the convent of the nuns to do something about their obsessions, which he ultimately fails in, as he himself becomes infatuated with the beautiful abbess mother Joan, who dominates the entire film. A previous priest has been burnt at the stake for being alleged to have seduced the nuns and caused their obsession, here is the one parallel to the case of Urbain Grandier, but all the rest is Polish conjecture. The film is worth seeing for its stylistic treats, but there has never been made any correct or convincing film of what really happened at Loudun. The only one who has tried to investigate the case thoroughly, as far as I know, was Aldous Huxley.
If anybody in the universe has not seen or heard of this film, this is the filmed version of Christina Crawford's tell all book of the same name, in which her adopted mother Joan Crawford is shown as an unhinged person who really had no business raising a child - she actually adopted four, including Christina. Did she have lots of lovers Did she overspend and drink herself into a drunken stupor occasionally, especially in the waning days of her career as she lost her looks Did she probably have more affection for Pepsi CEO Alfred Steele in her 50s than any of her many lovers in her youth and STILL spend him into an early grave anyways Probably yes to all of these.She also was the driven star, giving her career her all, and the proof is in the pudding for she was devoted to her fans, answering their mail personally, and in the fact that she kept a youthful figure way into her 50s. But back to the movie. So she was bound to be driven in her raising of children. Maybe she did make a point - like in the swimming scene - to point out that it was true Christina could never beat her because she would always be bigger and stronger and that life is just unfair. After all Joan grew up poor and had to get everything she got the hard way. What we don't know is if this manic depressive person who treats her daughter according to her mood was the real Joan or the revenge of a disinherited child via accusations in which the accused was as helpless to fight back after death as Christina would have been as a child at Joan's mercy. At the end of the film, and in the book, Christina Crawford openly lays out the motive for her negative portrayal of her mother - she was completely disinherited along with adopted brother Christopher, even though the film portrays Joan and Christina as having an uneasy truce once Christina reached adulthood and was out of the grasp of her mother's potential for physical abuse. Thus her total shock at being disinherited, and especially in the fact that no real reason was given by Joan in her will.Now, back to the actual film. I think Faye Dunaway did a fine job of portraying the two faced monster Christina talked about in her book. Whether or not that was the real Joan Crawford. However, Dunaway looks so much like Joan Crawford that it is uncanny. Likewise, Diana Scarwid is excellent as the teenage/adult Christina. Cautious around her mother given her behavior when she was a child, trying to eke out a living as an actress once she is an adult, accepting when Joan won't give her a dime in assistance. Steve Forrest is quite good as Joan's lover, attorney Greg Savitt, whom she cuts out of her life - and her photographs - after he lays out some hard truths to her.The cinematography and art design are top notch. It nails the 40s and 50s look and feel of the fashions, automobiles, and furnishings of the time. I'd say give it a try. The over the top parts are really in the first half, as Christina is growing up. The second half is more low key, humanizing Joan just a bit to where you almost feel sorry for her. In the words of John Waters, in reference to the wire hangers scene, \"If you don't like this scene you should never watch movies.\" For sure, you will not be bored.Just an aside - Christina isn't the only child of old Hollywood to have mommy issues and to have them end up in print. Somebody of completely different temperament and reputation in life - Jack Benny - wrote an incomplete autobiography due to his sudden death from pancreatic cancer in 1974. It was published with the help of the memoirs of his daughter - also an adopted only child. Although she says largely good things about her dad, she really lays into her mother, Mary Livingston. An interesting parallel. 59ce067264