The belief in witches is reported to have killed eight million in Europe (and an odd few in America) over several centuries. A sad confluence of aggravated superstition, simple misunderstanding, and the aggressive powers of the Inquisition brought about the disaster. Christensen’s main work is on the middle term, he speaks the language of the time among credulous folk who had the notion, after all, fixed in their brains that a woman really could turn a man into a mouse, for example. “Cat-feces and dove hearts” dropped into a drink could secure a monk’s love, even. These poeticisms are a manner of speech, a spoken thought. What if it could be proven that such a one actually did such things or sold some potions? Torture implements are shown to the camera.
A major work of art and scholarship, a work of genius that shows the modern age its causes and cures of like hysterias, the subconscious motivation and the unconscious act.
Christensen has the Scandinavian gift of collegial action on or around the set, a confrere of Dreyer’s and forebear of Bergman and Russell, a great director with an easy cast who thanks his art director and his director of photography for their assistance.