The Great Wall
Unlike any American blockbuster you've seen, a conservative movie with action set pieces that are actually inventive and thrilling enough to be worthwhile.
A burning at the stake, an afternoon in the rack, headscrews, a douche with boiling water, nails into hands, induced vomiting, ripped tongues, dead babies, human target practice, possession by devils, rape, transvestism, nude orgies in the nunnery. Put them all together and they spell Committed Art--because these are modern times and I certainly hope none of us is opposed to truth.
Now truth, as I've explained before, is what's real. If it isn't real, it isn't true, which is why a stone is better than a dream. If it isn't reality, who needs it? Or could lay hands on it, anyway? And everything on the list above really happened, yes it did. All the events and persons depicted in The Devils are intended to be confused with actual events and persons. How do I know? Ken Russell tells me so.
And so I stood in line the other night, my shoulders hunched against a nasty wind off Lake Michigan, waiting to get into the Cinema Theater so that I, too, could ascertain that unspeakable atrocities had occurred in the seventeenth century. I didn't want to be the only member of my generation unaware of the terrible events of 1634, a year that will live in infamy. Like everyone who's committed, I found it my duty to bear witness against the moral outrages or, if not my time, that at least somebody's time. I mean, you can't just sit around.
And Ken Russell has really done it this time. He has stripped the lid of respectability off the Ursuline convent in Louden, France. He has exposed Cardinal Richelieu as a political schemer. He has destroyed our illusions about Louis XIII. We are filled with righteous indignation a we bear witness to the violation of the helpless nuns; it is all the more terrible because, as Russell fearlessly reveals, all the nuns, without exception, were young and stacked.