Otakar Vávra’s Witchhammer, co-written by Ester Krumbachová (Daisies, Fruit of Paradise) from Václav Kaplický s 1963 novel, chronicles the series of notorious 17th Century Czech witch trials, undertaken using the infamous Malleus Maleficarum (the Witchhammer of the title), the Catholic treatise on witchcraft which endorses the extermination of witches and developed a detailed legal and theological theory for this purpose. Using genuine court transcripts from the forced confessions of those accused of sorcery and collusion with the Devil, it is a powerful and often shocking allegory of life under totalitarian rule.
With echoes of Bergman and Franti ek Vlá il, and with literary antecedents in Arthur s Miller s The Crucible and Aldous Huxley s The Devils of Loudon, it is a disturbing political fable; and like Ken Russell’s controversial, expressionistic adaptation of Huxley s text, The Devils (1971) and other films of the period such as Michael Reeves’ Witchfinder General (1968) and Michael Armstrong’s Mark of the Devil (1970), it serves as both grim genre film and compelling historical drama.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
Witchhammer (Kladivo na arod jnice, 1969) presented from a new HD transfer from original materials by the Czech National Film Archive
New and exclusive filmed appreciation by writer and film historian Kat Ellinger
Otakar Vávra’s short film The Light Penetrates the Dark (Svetlo proniká tmou, 1931)
Booklet featuring a new essay by writer and film critic Samm Deighan
New and improved English subtitle translation
Original soundtrack in Dual Mono 24-bit LPCM audio
World Premiere on Blu-ray