Burned at the Stake: Cinematic Witchcraft Through the Ages

Life isn’t easy for witches. Sure, they have magical powers, live for hundreds of years, and can fly around on broomsticks — but it’s not all fun and games. Beyond the stinging social stigma attached to those who witch for a living, there’s also the constant threat of unruly villagers brandishing torches and pitchforks, hungry for a good old-fashioned witch-burning. It’s starkly amusing to recall that the archetypal witch caricature was born out of the cold-blooded, unlawful murder of innocent people, acts committed vainly in the name of religion. On film, the witch is prolific, with countless examples dating back to the dawn of the art form.

When examining the witch film genre, mounting similarities cannot be ignored. Some employ the witch in fairy tales, macabre bedtime stories intended to evoke fear and wonderment in equal measure. Others depict a society gone mad, fingers ever pointed at
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