Otakar Vávra – Kladivo na carodejnice AKA Witches’ Hammer AKA Witchhammer (1970)

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Synopsis:
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.

— IMDb. Continue reading

Otakar Vávra – Kladivo na carodejnice AKA Witches’ Hammer (1970)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

REVIEW by Susan Doll (from facets.org):

The Czech New Wave rode the tide of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia that lasted throughout the 1960s, which accounted for their ability to make highly personal films in individual styles. At the same time, this generation attracted international attention and acclaim. However, they were not the only directors to benefit from the freer political climate. Older directors from the postwar period, and even those of the prewar generation, made films they probably could not have made earlier in their careers.

Witches’ Hammer (Kladivo na Carodejnice), adapted from a novel by Vaclav Kaplicky, was historical drama roughly based on actual events, but Vavra became particularly fascinated with the subject matter while researching the film. Witches’ Hammer is a tale about the witch trials in Czechoslovakia in the 17th century, which unfolds from the perspective of an educated priest. The priest watches as his village’s most prosperous citizens are arrested by the Inquisitor, who impounds their property. The priest tries to stop the false accusations and fear-mongering, but he himself is unjustly accused. As he started the project, Vavra grew increasingly interested in the history behind the witch trials-why it happened in a country that did not practice witchcraft, how the victims were manipulated into confessing to actions they did not commit, and why they begged for swift punishment. Continue reading