This thoroughly unhinged period film by Andrzej Żuławski is a hellish tour of late 18th-century Poland that more than makes good on the demonic promise of its title. A murderous nobleman who has just escaped from prison returns to his family’s home, which has become a desiccated, barbaric realm in his absence. It’s not long before a black-clad Satanic proxy appears on the scene, roping the nobleman into a series of political intrigues that rapidly assumes the form of a frenzied, vengeful killing spree. Deservedly controversial for its violence (rendered via Żuławski’s customary wild, free-ranging cinematography), The Devil winds up as a fascinating meditation on the soul in the crucible of madness. New digital restoration courtesy of the Polish Film Institute.
Read Film Comment‘s reflections on the film and the rest of Żuławski’s body of work here.