chapter  29
11 Pages

Witchcraft in Film

WithDavid Nash

A chapter on witchcraft in film, one that appears in a book primarily about the history of the phenomenon clearly has a different purpose than the numerous treatments of witchcraft that appear in film studies and popular culture volumes. Thus, this chapter will consider several of the central themes thrown up by numerous depictions of witchcraft in film and will focus upon these in specific examples. Perhaps one overarching theme that cultural historians should most be interested in is how depictions of witchcraft in film have been a communicative and exploratory device. That is, they should be regarded as methods by which the public at large learn aspects of otherwise specialist or academic knowledge. As such, they have a crucial role in shaping popular perception of the particular phenomena depicted. This chapter displays illustrations of witchcraft practice, vivid re-creations of what particular periods of historiography have established as fact and interpretation and, lastly, a variety of themes which seek to place witchcraft in a wider historical and cultural context. As such, these have lasting influence upon popular perceptions of witchcraft and the occult. Indeed we might consider how far some of these depictions have become cultural archetypes in themselves, further influencing cultural products and outputs about this particular subject.