I've never made a secret of my interest in controversial film, the cut, the banned, the frowned upon and the forbidden. Well, on March 26th one of the more notable (and one of the more effectively suppressed) examples comes to UK DVD, 23 years after it was banned for blasphemy. Nigel Wingrove's Visions of Ecstasy was rejected by the BBFC, the Video Appeals Committee and eventually the European Court of Human Rights, but the blasphemy law which sealed its fate was repealed in 2008, and the film has now been passed uncut by the BBFC. Here are the release details and cover art (just an aside here; I LOVE that Graham Bright is quoted, that should annoy him):
The only film in the UK to ever been banned for blasphemy
Visions of Ecstasy, a short, experimental art film made in 1989, is the only film ever to have been banned outright in the UK solely on the grounds of blasphemy. Further its depiction and interpretation of the erotic imaginings of the 16th Century Carmelite nun, St. Teresa,were such that the films banning was upheld in an historic judgement at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in a case that took seven years to reach its conclusion. Now, due to the abolition of the UK's blasphemy laws in 2008, Visions of Ecstasy is finally being released.
Included with this historic film is also a 40 page, booklet written by the films director, Nigel Wingrove, in which he explains how the film came to be made, the effect its banning had on his life and future work, and how his continuing battles against film censorship led eventually to the resignation of the BBFC's then director, James Ferman, the legalisation of pornography and a general relaxations of film classification overall.
Also included on this DVD are the director s first erotic short film, Axel (1986) and his nunsploitation feature, Sacred Flesh (2000), in which a Mother Superior struggles with her sexual desires in a series of imagined dialogues with Mary Magdalene will her mind torments her with images of sexual perversion, lesbianism and sadomasochism.
Additional extras include extensive stills, press gallery and interviews.
I've written a pretty extensive article on Visions of Ecstasy and the history of blasphemy in UK film censorship over at The New Journalist, so if you're interested in the film, check that article out HERE
If you'd like to pre-order the DVD, please use this link and help out 24FPS, at no extra cost to you. Cheers.