We return to the theme of witches with an evil eye to look at them in a broader historical and social context. Who was a witch? Who was a bitch? Who actually deserved what they got?
The Witchfinder General. Dir Michael Reeves. 1968.
Inferno. Dir Dario Argento. 1980.
The Crucible. Dir Nicholas Hytner. 1996.
Why I Wrote the Crucible. Arthur Miller’s take on his own play as it’s about the hit the big screen.
The Moral Panic Concept. An overview and analysis of moral panic.
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I really enjoyed this episode. WITCHFINDER and INFERNO are two of my favorite movies. I think I was one of the people who suggested WITCHFINDER for a part two lo these many months ago. Great to hear you discuss it. Definitely Vincent Price’s best performance for me (though I must say that Donald Pleasence is not the one-trick pony many people may think, as both RAW MEAT and the Australian drama WAKE IN FRIGHT should demonstrate, and I would have loved to have seen his Hopkins). You specifically brought up what has always stayed with me as the film’s most powerful scene, the man watching his wife get burned. The mental and emotional effects of the violence, much more disturbing than graphic physical detail. I remember thinking that one thing the movie did was take the audience on long hikes with one character at a time, even secondary characters like Stearne, almost as if it were espousing the philosophy that all players are of equal importance, or as if it were exploring its themes from as many angles as possible. I think that’s how I perceived the parts you described as slow, like Reeves really had something important in mind and was not trying to waste our time on senseless tangents. Random, but I would love to hear you guys on THE BABADOOK, as that was one that got my analytical juices flowing like crazy and I would love to hear someone besides myself pick it apart. I saw it as a harrowing but ultimately uplifting fable about two troubled people who love each other learning to live together. My girlfriend, I think, saw it as ninety minutes of pointless emotional torture. At any rate, keep up the good work. Thanks for revisiting the witchcraft topic. Been listening for about a year now and I’m still here, so you must be doing something right.
I just wanted to say THANKS for discussing movies that are out of the norm. I’ve never heard of some of these and I really appreciate hearing you talk about them. Being a big fan of older films (re: movies made before the 1980’s), I appreciate you sharing your expertise on things that are NOT so current! 🙂
I would love to hear your take on Burnt Offerings – one of the creepiest films I have ever seen!
I’ll admit that of this month’s movies I’ve only seen The Crucible but now I’ll definitely need to check out Witchfinder General and Inferno.
The discussion about Tituba’s role in The Crucible reminded me of a really good book that a friend gave me called I, Tituba by Maryse Conde. The book looks at the Salem witch trials through the gaze of Tituba, who Conde writes as actually being a witch. Being a witch, however, is not something to be feared or fought against in Conde’s work, however. Her skills, learned in her home land of Barbados, are altruistic and good. The derision and backlash from the people of Salem represents the oppression imposed by white Christians against anything that goes against the status quo. It’s a really good read and I think informs my interpretation of The Crucible as I can’t help but think of Tituba as being the same from Conde’s work.
Looking forward to next month’s episode, but I am kind of pissed that you’re making me watch World War Z given how much it strayed from the source material which is among my favorite zombie books of all time. I’m sure I’ll get over it.
Just listened to this episode, and the whole bit about witch hysteria and anti-communist hysteria in The Crucible just reminded me that that is a phenomena that never goes away in the U.S.. Because the U.S. was first populated by a motley crew of religious wackjobs(particlarly Puritans) we seem susceptible to manias like that. Being Canadian, I’m not sure how familiar you are with some of this stuff, but it the last 35 years we had a Satanism in rock music hysteria that culminated in the metal group Judas Priest going on trial after a couple of young knuckleheads committed suicide after listening to their music, and a few years after that we had the Ritual-Child-Abuse-in-Preschools hysteria that had preschool teachers all over America going on trial for ritual abuse. Some people went to jail over completely false “recovered” memories, and people were ruined, most famously in the McMartin Pre-school trial where one defendant was held for 5 years without bail before charges were dropped.
This is my longwinded way of saying that America seems to regularly jump from one moral panic to the next, and because of that, The Crucible will always be relevant.
Have you seen Black Death? I think that one neatly fits in with the theme of this episode.
It sounds like maybe you should direct a production of The Crucible, Alex.