Director: Carl Theodor Dreyer
Year Released: 1943
Intense depiction of witch hunts during the 1600's, when people honestly believed in demonic possession and religious fanaticism ruled everyday existence. Dreyer explored similar territory with Passion of Joan of Arc, but he cannot be accused of redundancy; all his pictures possess a spiritual quality as unshakable and heartfelt as anything delivered by his followers, Bergman and Tarkovsky, and each stands alone, exploring a different aspect of that complex subject. Everything works - the lighting, cinematography and performances are precise and illuminating; the background "music," that of a clock incessantly ticking, only adds to the haunting atmosphere. The only real "negative," in my mind, is that it's entirely predictable (I figured out what was going to happen in the first five minutes) and somewhat obvious in its Oedipal implications, but these matter little when face-to-face with cinematic perfectionism.