Visions of Ecstasy (1989) (DVD Review)
Director: Nigel Wingrove
Where to get it: Redemption
Visions of Ecstasy, an 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 film’s banning was upheld in an historic judgment 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. Also included on this disc is the director’s nunsploitation feature, Sacred Flesh (2000) (in SD), in which a Mother Superior struggles with her sexual desires in a series of imagined dialogues with Mary Magdalene while her mind torments her with images of sexual perversion, lesbianism and sadomasochism along with the short film Axel.
The main focus of DVD that includes the controversial works of Nigel Wingrove is a 19 minute tale of a nun called Visions of Ectasy. This is a very art driven short that was once banned on the account of blasphemy in the UK and you can sort of see why it would have been. It won’t be a movie that everyone will appreciate but those who enjoy the vaguer and artsy side of cinema will appreciate it and the rest of what comes on this DVD for it being what it is. As far as short go, the DVD also packs two other art driven shorts that deal with lustful subjects and we also have an entire film called Sacred Flesh.
In regards to Sacred Flesh it is a tale of nuns once again. This controversial film is feature length and takes inside the working of a convent as all involved deal with a sister who may or may not be driven by more evil forces. Like the shorts it is an odd movie and it also has the same themes running through it that the other short films on the disc had. All in all I’d pretty much say everything on this is very even in quality and I’d also say that for anyone who want to own the more interesting and strange entries into film over the years might enjoy this one and all its content the most.
– Axel (1988) 8 minutes
– Faustine (1990) 2 minutes
– Sacred Flesh (2000) 72 minutes
– Interview with Nigel Wingrove
– 24 Minute Documentary with interviews also with Nigel Wingrove
– Finding Ectasy on the Road to Redemption – 36 page illustrated essay on the film’s content