Terry Catchpole
August 09, 1991 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Witchcraft Through the Ages

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
performer
William S. Burroughs
distributor
MPI Home Video
genre
Documentary

We gave it a B

Which is stranger: witchcraft itself, or movies about witchcraft? Witchcraft Through the Ages is an eye-popping cultural artifact, a vividly embroidered documentary produced in Sweden in 1922 and here narrated in English by author William S. Burroughs. After tracing witchcraft’s rise through a series of lurid engravings, Burroughs brings us to the Middle Ages (”when the devil’s deeds ran rampant”), and the on-screen images switch to subtitled dramatizations of toad-eating witches and torture-loving witch-hunters. Next we’re in the ”modern era,” where, Burroughs tells us, witchcraft takes the form of psychic hysteria and other alleged ”mental illnesses.” In this case, the witchcraft movie is surely as strange as its subject. B

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