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14 Reviews
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars woman herbal healer in med. France suspected of heresy, June 24, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Sorceress [VHS] (VHS Tape)
To a quiet village in rural 12th century France comes a young and fanatical Dominican friar searching for signs of heresy. The friar's main suspect is a woman healer trusted by the villagers. There are some stock characters such as the wise but humble village priest, and the domineering local lord, but watch for a dog who is revered as a saint. The story is told with great sensitivity to the historical period of its setting, but the message of redemption is well done with some surprises woven in.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story of humanity, idealism vs. realism, November 19, 2002
This review is from: Sorceress [VHS] (VHS Tape)
A historically based movie set in 13th century France. Etienne de Bourbon was a Dominican Friar who sought to root out heresy. Based upon his writings and the story about his experience called The Holy Greyhound, so sort of a true story for events 750 years ago. Beautifully filmed, a classic in religious studies classes. A movie I'd like to see again just for pure enjoyment. Highly recommended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lady of the Beasts, March 5, 2008
This review is from: Sorceress (French with English Subtitles) (DVD)
Having treasured this film since its production, I am thrilled to have been able to update my aging VHS copy with this pristine DVD. It feels like a rebirth in more ways than one. Our current age of ecological crisis and commitment provides a ripe climate for this Medieval tale. Many Americans of European heritage can look back to the historical chapter depicted and understand how their lineage lost sacred connection with the Earth, and determine that it can be restored. So this is truly a story whose time has come...again!

Art Historian, co-producer, and co-screenwriter Pamela Berger was inspired by the 13th-century accounts of a Dominican monk who was a part of the early Inquisition in France. His treatise showed adequate cause for this pious predator to have brought a certain healer, herbalist and "Mistress of the Beasts" to trial and probable death as a heretic. Dr. Berger went further and created a more complex plot which shows the Monk's condemnatory eyes ultimately turned inward for a personal reckoning.

Of course the Dominican friar, Etienne de Bourbon (Tcheky Karyo), with his aristocratic family roots and theological education, strides into this isolated French village with an innate sense of superiority and entitlement, however arrogantly he might protest his humility. He tries to enlist the support of the local cleric (Jean Carmet) in routing out enemies of the faith, a pursuit the good, older, wiser priest dismisses as absurd: "There are no Heretics in my parish. My people are as pious as they are poor." But the intruder remains as rabid in his quest as a dog with a bone.

The good Trickster priest has already confided to his house-keeper (and probable life companion) his assessment of the Inquisitor's eyes : "like a bat's ~ fierce, unblinking, and blind." When the Monk wanders into the Sorceress' woodland domain with his nose in his breviary, he obviously only has eyes for his abstract, sky-based God. As Theologian Mary Daly noted in Beyond God the Father, "New space has a kind of invisibility to those who have not entered it."

The eyes of the Woods-Woman, Elda (Christine Boisson) are anything but blind, with her first request to the Friar ~ that he move his shadow off her collection of drying leaves ~ resonating on levels physical and psychological. Etienne's avid gathering of evidence against Elda as a "vetula" a Sorceress using crafts of the Devil, is prompted as much by his sexual conundrums as by church dictates, since Elda is a very comely woman.

In resurrecting and amplifying this tale, Pamela Berger joins the cause of Shakespeare and other writers of his day, who also perused church documents from the Inquisition and, in doing so, culled magical stories of the peasantry, resurrecting in their plays fairies, sprites, and other such spirits of Nature. Bravo!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic Parable, June 13, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Sorceress [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This beautifully acted and filmed drama is a touching and poetic social parable with great detail and a cumulative power of surprising potency. One of the finest films of the last 20 years--no exaggeration.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best movie on medieval popular culture, August 23, 2009
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Sorceress is in my view the best film depiction of medieval religion and culture, one that I use regularly in my classes. Based on the legendary dog 'saint' Guinefort, the story explores the clash of noble and village culture; outsiders such as Dominicans looking for heresy contrasted with the village priest who is one of his people; medieval understandings of Christianity; and the role of healing women and men.

Although some liberties are taken with the story of the Dominican Etienne de Bourbon's life, who wrote about Guinefort at the end of his life and the healing woman Elda is much more young and beautiful in the film than in the original tale, this is a stunning film that provides great insights into 13th-C. life and beliefs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This film was so difficult to find...and great film, April 21, 2013
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This review is from: Sorceress (French with English Subtitles) (DVD)
I was so happy to find this film because i love history an this film relate
event who passed en average age. The casting is wow!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old movie...needs to be seen, January 13, 2013
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Just a lovely film. I saw it about 20 years ago and it has stayed with me all these years. Powerful, beautiful and truthful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sorceress, September 1, 2012
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This review is from: Sorceress (French with English Subtitles) (DVD)
This is an excellent movie. I saw it years ago and have been trying to find a copy of it ever since. The French version (with English subtitles) is much better than the English version.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Unique Film, January 10, 2012
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This is a truly remarkable film about a little village in France during the time of the Inquisition. All about human strengths and frailties with a wonderful cast. Tells the tale of an all-too-human monk on a quest to stamp out corruption....and then he meets the Forest Woman....and himself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sorceeress, February 15, 2010
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This review is from: Sorceress (French with English Subtitles) (DVD)
This is a movie I saw in the 1980's and it made such an impression on me that I longed to see it again. However, it never appeared in video stores nor on tv, So I searched for it on Amazon and was delighted to find it.
There was a change in this version over the first one;in the version I saw, the sorceress was actually put on the fire to be burned as a witch and saved at the last minute, but in this version, the monk decides to take her part before she can be burned. It was less dramatic but it works too.
Historically, it gives a remarkable insight into life in southern France in medieval times, and how people used herbs for healing, and foreshadows the evil to come of the Inquisition, and hunting down of "witches".
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Sorceress   (French with English Subtitles)
Sorceress (French with English Subtitles) by Suzanne Schiffman (DVD - 1987)
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