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A Dominican friar visits a 13th-century French village in search of heretics. Despite the opposition of the local priest and the indifference of the villagers, he finds a seemingly perfect suspect: a young woman who lives in a forest outside the village and cures people with herbs and folk remedies. Written by
Eric Sorensen <Eric_Sorensen@fc.mcps.k12.md.us>
Originally released in France as Le Moine et la sorcière (The Monk and the Witch), Sorceress chronicles the medieval legend of a greyhound that killed a large snake which was attacking a baby. In the process of killing the snake, the greyhound knocks over the baby's cradle and the child is covered by the cradle and his bedding. Upon returning home, the knight finds the baby's nursery in shambles, the cradle overturned and the child apparently gone, and seeing blood on the greyhound's jaws, comes to the conclusion that the dog has killed the child. After killing the greyhound in a rage, he hears the baby's cry and finds him safe under his bedding beside the dead snake. Realizing his tragic error, the knight has the greyhound canonized as a saint contrary to the laws of the Church. Saint Guinefort, as she is known by the locals, is revered as a protector of children for centuries afterward.
Everything is fine until Etienne de Bourbon, an Inquisitor, comes to the village to investigate this heresy. There, he discovers Elda, a local healer and mystic. His authority and theology comes into direct conflict with her own practical faith and devotion to healing. As the story unfolds, it is clear that de Bourbon is having difficulty resolving his own doubts as his beliefs are tested by Elda and the villagers. More subtly portrayed is his willful suppression of his physical attraction to her beauty.
This is a fine movie that suffers little from the sub-titles. The French dialogue gives it a level of authenticity that might be lost in the dubbed English version. Christine Boisson is bewitching as Elda, the sorceress, and Tchéky Karyo is convincing as the Inquisitor. The pace of this movie might be too deliberate and its tone too philosophical for some, but it is historically accurate and a stunning piece of filmwork. Highly recommended.
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