In the France of 1634, Cardinal Richelieu (Christopher Logue) seeks more power so he can suppress Protestants from rising up against the Catholic church, power that he acquires by convincing King Louis XIII (a flamboyantly fey Graham Armitage) to let him destroy the fortifications of cities across the country. (Exactly how that's supposed to work completely eludes me, and I've seen the film about a half-dozen times.) The sole town excepted from the wholesale demolition is Loudon, which is exempt thanks to the king having promised its governor that no harm would come to it. That status changes when the governor dies and leaves the place under the control of Father Urbain Grandier (Oliver Reed in a terrific performance), who's a far cry from anyone's concept of an exemplary priest. Grandier doles out spiritual aid to the populace, but he's a handsome, virile man who greatly enjoys the pleasures of the flesh and the power his rank in the Church allows him. The women of Loudon openly fantasize about being bedded by him and Grandier's priapic hobbies are common knowledge to all and sundry, including, unfortunately, his serial impregnation of young girls sent to him for personal religious instruction. Grandier dismisses his latest knocked-up conquest when she tells him of her condition and he could not care less about what becomes of her or his percolating bastard, being the smug, entitled prick that he is.
Sister Jeanne (Vanessa Redgrave): deformed, highly unstable, and jonesing for some Grandier dick.
Sister Jeanne: How much better off would she have been if Toys in Babeland had existed in 1634?
Poster from the original theatrical release.