Kladivo na čarodějnice | Otakar Vávra | CS 1970 | 103 Min | DCP

Otakar Vávra’s film about seventeenth-century witch hunter Jindřich František Boblig and the horrors he visited on the small village of Velké Losiny has been called an Eastern European counterpart to Michael Reeves’s Witchfinder General and Michael Armstrong’s Mark of the Devil. Co-written by Ester Krumbachová (Daisies) from Václav Kaplický’s 1963 novel, the film was shot in many of the real places where the events occurred, including the Renaissance-era chateau where Boblig resided and in whose Great Courtroom he pronounced his judgements on accused witches, ultimately torturing and burning 56 people from this small community at the stake. A breathtaking film whose confronting rhythm is accentuated by stark monochrome cinematography, Witchhammer exposes the corrupt establishment that enables people like Boblig to accumulate wealth and power through his own self-ascribed but ultimately unfounded expertise, revealing that terror allowed to roam free always comes home in the end.

Otakar Vávra
Vávra, Otakar (* 1911, † 2011) was the writer of eighty screenplays and producer of fifty films, specializing in historical movies with elaborate costumes and mass scenes. Directing seminal works like Witchhammer, he was also a professor at FAMU in Prague, training many filmmakers who would form the New Wave of Czechoslovak film in the 1960s.
Language OmeU
Cast Elo Romančík, Vladimír Šmeral, Soňa Valentová, Josef Kemr, Lola Skrbková
Writer Otakar Vávra, Ester Krumbachová (based on a novel by Václav Kaplický)
Editing Antonín Zelenka
Cinematography Josef Illík