Giordano Bruno | Wherever I am, I am. | 10/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've given this "opera for TV" five stars, but I urge you seriously not to watch it. It's extraordinarily painful, and enough pain will come your way without the help of music and cinematography. Still, anything that disturbs me so strongly must be potent art in its way.
This is a depiction of dementia (as in possession by demons), sado-masochism, flagellation, torture, and burning alive at the stake. It could, I suppose, be perceived as an indictment of religious depravity and the corruption of organized faith. It is certainly depraved, but I take it to be more a portrayal of the torment of religious doubt, the hideous psychological self-hatred innate in a religion of guilt and redemption. The composer, Krzysztof Penderecki, if I remember correctly, went through a religious crisis and "conversion" not long after writing this opera. The visual and verbal impact of this film are much more powerful than the music, if that matters to you. I defy you to remember a musical passage, or to forget the image of the gleeful torturers.
It was filmed in 1969. I would have said, before watching it, that the world has become a more violent and tormented place since then, but The Devils of Loudun has reminded me of the dark and twisted anxiety many of us lived through in the era of nuclear nightmares, Vietnam, the Zodiac and the Zebra killers, etc. I'm glad I survived. I'm glad I have a few flower boxes to water and cultivate. I'm glad I'm not oppressed and perverted by any demons of religious dread. It's good to look at the hills and see millions of years of gentle erosion, to play with my son and feel proud to contain the whole sublime history of evolution in our DNA, to look at the sky and see only stars, not devils nor gods.
Above all, dear reader, you are not required to suffer through Penderecki's obsession; some art is optional. There are plenty of other options."
A. Mena | Barcelona, Spain | 04/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The music in this dvd is simply gorgeous. It's complex, terrific, sarcastic, cynical... just one of the best operas of the second half of the last century. The libretto is also great, as it creates a dark landscape of sorrow and despair (just like a hell). It also achieves creating a myth, that only the best ones (Strauss and Hoffmannstahl's, Wagner's, etc.)achieve at doing.
Tatiana Troyanos as Jeanne is amazing, and the conductor Marek Janowski manages to create a rich amount of sounds from the orchestra.
Too bad the film direction is not as good as the rest, although has some pretty good ideas.
Anyway, it's a very recommendable dvd. Penderecki's music is worth every dollar/euro."