I believe the DVD version is not the same as the Channel 4 version, but merely the X-certificated release of the film as shown in the UK cinemas (early 1970s). The Channel 4 version (and the version shown at the NFT) included the Rape of Christ scene, which is not included in this DVD version. The DVD version that includes the Rape of Christ scene is for all intents and purposes a bootleg.
There has never been a legal home video release or television broadcast of a version of 'The Devils' with the "rape of Christ" scene included. The ONLY legal screenings of the 2004 extended cut have been at the NFT/BFI Southbank and a tiny handful elsewhere in Britain - I'm not sure if it's ever been shown outside the UK.
People misremember the 2002 Channel 4 broadcast because the "rape of Christ" scene was included in the 'Hell on Earth' documentary - but the film that was screened afterwards was in fact the same 1971 British theatrical cut that's featured on the DVD (albeit in the correct aspect ratio this time: C4 cropped the picture so that it filled a standard 16:9 television screen). So while all the relevant footage to assemble an extended version was broadcast that evening, bootleggers still had to put some work into assembling it in the right order.
Incidentally, here's a review from someone who's actually seen the new BFI release (i.e. unlike any of the ten Amazon "reviewers" as of 29 February). He goes into a lot of very helpful detail about what's included and why: www.mondo-digital.com/devils.html
Hi Michael, As you clearly know what you're talking about with this genuinely great film (it's one of the few films - along with the likes of 2001, Nosferatu, Touch Of Evil, etc. - that I believe works as a total work of art - script, theme, score, photography, character, acting, story, costume, design, etc.) I thought I'd ask you for some answers to some things that have puzzled me for a while, if that's alright.
I first saw (and taped) this film on BBC2's 'banned weekend' back in the mid-90s (along with what I believe was a more complete version of Performance and The Night Porter) then came the Warner Maverick Directors VHS release. Were these the same length version as the later C4 showing and therefore this (eagerly awaited by me at least) DVD release - albeit now released in it's correct ratio?
(I've always been curious as to how BBC2 got their broadcast versions of both The Devils and Performance and whether they had to contribute to their restoration/ reconstruction or whether they were already held in these forms in the top secret Warner archives.)
While everybody has been obsessing about 'the Rape of Christ' sequence I seem to recall from either something round the BBC2 showing or from Tom Dewe Matthews book 'Censored' that various other bits like the leg-crushing scene were heavily edited (and bargained over). I presume that some of the blows during this scene are still missing as I think they were removed at the BBFC stage - or have I got it all tangled up? (The link you attached says 'extended leg torture' is included but is this still less brutal than was originally intended?)
As I write this I'm reminded about how much the British tortured Warner Brothers during this period - The Devils, Performance, A Clockwork Orange, etc. - it's no wonder they shut down their London office! And I do find it ironic that the US had so much removed from The Devils (and have no DVD) while we got 8 minutes more and The Rape Of Christ sequence is now show on mainstream broadcast television - compare the lack of fuss over that with the Janet Jackson superbowl incident.
Now, I'm just waiting for the actual post-release Amazon reviews complaining of heavy censorship because they don't understand PAL speed-up.....