Ondrej, a young boy who loves bees and bats, is introduced to his new mother, a woman much younger than his father. He brings her a basketful of flowers which she starts to throw in the air... See full summary »
Husband (senior ministry official) and wife find their house is riddled with listening devices put there by his own ministry. A harrowing night follows (reminiscent of 'Who's Afraid Of ... See full summary »
A grim portrayal of the shift from Paganism to Christianity in medieval Czechoslovakia - as a young virgin promised to God is kidnapped and raped by a marauder who her religious father seeks to kill in return.
In the aftermath of World War II, a former Czech soldier takes charge of a manor formerly owned by a German family. He falls in love with the daughter, who is now a maid, and is forced to ... See full summary »
Rudolph II, the Holy Roman Emperor, does not have a simple life. And yet he manages to complicate it even more with his frequent outbursts of anger. While he searches for a mythical Golem, ... See full summary »
Krabat, a beggar boy, is lured to become an apprentice to an evil, one-eyed sorcerer. With a number of other boys, he works at the sorcerer's mill while learning black magic. Every ... See full summary »
The time is the seventeenth century. The beggar Maryna Schuchová hides the Host in her scarf at the Communion. She admits to the parish priest Schmidt that she intended to give it to the midwife Groerová to heal her ailing cow. The young priest declares her a witch and convinces the Sumperk countess De Galle to summon the inquisitor Boblig from Edelstadt. This failed student of law sees the offer as a great opportunity. He uses torture and threats to force the women from the to testify to their meetings with the devil and learn by heart the lies he has made up for the inquisition tribunal. Boblig accuses the wealthy burghers of witchcraft as well, and so wants to seize their possessions.Written by
The persecution of witches is a rather popular cinematic topic; the best film on the topic undoubtedly being 1968's Witchfinder General. This Czech effort follows a similar plot line to the earlier film, though the result is much artier and less graphic and while I preferred the older film - this one has its merits and will be of interest to people who find this topic interesting or who enjoy arty foreign films. The style of the movie rather reminded me of Ingmar Bergman's work (though less 'deep') and fans of his (a group of people that doesn't include me) will probably like this film too. The film begins with a sequence that sees an old woman take something from a church in order to help a cow give birth. Naturally, the powers that be aren't amused and after being caught, she is put before them to explain her actions. The council agree that she is involved in witchcraft, but other people are also implicated during the trial; and after she is put to death, the 'town cleanser' goes on a crusade to rid the town of all "witchcraft".
The film features very stark black and white cinematography and this helps the film in terms of atmosphere as it feels very dark and unpleasant, which bodes well with the plot. The film is not very graphic - especially not compared to other films on this topic and not in its own right either; only a scene that sees three people burned alive could really be considered graphic. Most of the plot line is made up of debate between the lead characters and while it's fairly interesting, the film did start to grate on me after a while and I would have preferred it to be a bit more visceral. Witches' Hammer is very well acted and the ensemble cast all fit into their roles well. This is the first (and probably last) film I've seen from director Otakar Vávra but clearly he's a director that pays attention to detail as every frame of the film feels carefully crafted. Overall, I won't say that this is a favourite of mine and if you're looking for a film about the witch trials, I would recommend Witchfinder General first; but Witches' Hammer is an interesting film and may be of interest to some people.
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