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In 1897, in a castle near the town of Werewolfville in the Carpathians, a slightly deranged Professor Orfanik experiments with his new inventions which include, even at this early date, television and a film camera.
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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
Due to a very impressive image of the atmosphere of fear and compulsory confessions that resembled the Stalinist methods of the communist regime of the 1950s, the film was removed from hire and appeared on television screens only after 1989. See more »
While not exactly pleasant, it is very well done...
This is a recreation of a series of witch trials that occurred around 1600. Since it's a Czechoslovakian film, I assume it is set somewhere around there. The film begins with an odd occurrence--an old lady pretends to eat a communion wafer at church but instead shoves it into a handkerchief. When confronted about this weird behavior, folks immediately assume it's because she's involved with witches and that these devil worshipers plan on using the host for some unholy ceremony. THe woman really is just very superstitious and she's really taking the wafer to trade someone--as they want to use the wafer to supposedly cure a sick animal. This is goofy--but the priest certainly does not think it constitutes witchcraft and admonishes everyone to forget about it. However, the elders insist on bringing in a witch-finder and determining if it's all part of a demonic ceremony. From there, everything gets way out of hand and they start burning practically anyone--all due to an overzealous and evil man bent on abusing the gullibility of others.
The film gets very high marks for realism. The torture and subsequent confessions seem very well done--though are a bit difficult to watch. And, the entire abuse of the silly system and complicity of the Church is quite interesting--as well as the lone priest who fights this evil tribunal. My only complaint is the opening scene. It's jam-packed full of very gratuitous nudity. Later, there is some explicit nudity but it is necessary for the film and should have been used (such as when they stripped the lady to look for 'the Devil's mark' on her as well as to humiliate her). So, the violence and nudity make it a film I would NOT recommend to your kids or mother-in-law! Otherwise, extremely well done but possibly not the sort of thing you'd want to watch (it can be a bit hard to take).
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