The Season of The Witch, is one of my favourite movies because right from the beginning, it drops the viewer into the era of The Crusades. An era that I find fascinating. Even though it’s a fantasy, it successfully comes across as believable. As usual, the critics took it all far too seriously.
From the beginning, it’s plain to see that the whole cast are playing this one, with the same historically accurate intent, as was displayed by The Python’s crew in, “The Life of Brian” and a good job they make of it too.
Claire Foy, who plays a) The girl, b) The witch and c) The demon, can hardly keep a straight face and with Nicolas Cage, (Behmen von Bleibruck) and Ron Perlman (Felson), playing opposite her and who can blame the poor girl. Nothing is underplayed in this film, the bad guys are just so wonderfully evil and conniving, that they make your toes curl on a regular basis. A prime example being the ‘God Crazed Preacher,’ who is seen raving on at the beginning of this movie. He is just a warm up act, one that sets the scene for the rest of this excellent film.
Anyway, let’s get back to the story.
‘The Hag scene,’ at the beginning of this film, is a classic and cannot be missed if you truly wish to understand, where this one is coming from.
It goes like this……….
Three women are accused of being witches and are paraded before the local priest, who not surprisingly lies to them and tricks them into confessing. Two of them, are quite normal looking, for the 13th century. You know how it goes, raggedy clothing and it’s yet another bad hair day all round, so they must be guilty, as charged!
Anyway, they object, as you would and protest their innocence but the other one is just a bit too ‘haggy’ and starts acting up. To no avail, all three of them meet a grisly end at the end of a rope.
‘Season of The Witch,’ offers the concept of purposeful and spiritual interference in daily life, which sets a tone of both good and evil. One side is trying to prevent a virulent demon driven plague from ravaging any more of the countryside and the other, doing its damnedest to prevent them from succeeding.
The introduction and inevitable interference of a standard model of hellfire preacher, as usual solves nothing. It only serves to make Behmen, more and more disillusioned, resulting in his desertion from The Army of God. Felson, never the smartest cookie in the tin, joins him in his act of contrition and hence, gets caught at the same time. Both naughty knights then get given the task of delivering The Girl to the Abbey of Severac and finding the cure to the Black Pestilence.
“Oh, that it was so simple.”
Alas, it is not exactly a cake ride. Behmen and his chum Felson, along with young wannabe a knight, Kay, have to handle an attack by a pack of CGI Wolves and negotiate the crossing of an extremely rickety bridge, in order to reach Severac, which, if they’d just stopped and looked up, they would have clearly seen in the distance.
With some great acting by the stars of the film, Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman and Claire Foy, plus a brilliantly complementary cast, this film, holds your attention from start to finish and manages, as all the best movies do, to compress time. It’s almost two hours long but seems to be much shorter, due, just like a book, to its excellent editing.
The final battle between the Demon and the surviving Teutons is to put it bluntly, quite hilarious and only Claire Foy and the now knighted sidekick, Kay survive to ride off into a scenic panorama.
The story never lingers anywhere for too long and the tale has a great pace with a climactic and deadly, demonic conclusion. It is this pace I think of when I write. The story never slows down, or backs away from a gruesome reality, which is quite a relief, during these days of warnings about everything.
Death, fear and adventure, with a thoughtful and considered finale. What more could you want from a movie?
Or, a book for that matter?
Whenever you choose to watch this one, you should always remember the simple truth that, “He’s not a Teutonic Knight, he’s just a very naughty boy, with a very recognisable sword” and like most of the best things in life, it shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
In conclusion, ‘Season of The Witch,’ is one of those movies, that really sits well with a few pints of Guinness and/or something good to smoke.