This subtitled French film is about a “forest woman” in a remote rural medieval village. She uses her knowledge of plants to act as a healer. Villagers come to her for her knowledge of herbs to heal sickness. She also has some “tricks” up her sleeve in terms of cures that are more for placebo affect. So of course, when the Catholic Church sends a new priest to the village, he accuses her of witchcraft.
The priest is depicted fairly in this film. Rather than a purely evil figure, he does try to wrap his head around what’s going on. He’s from a more urban, and his mind a more forward thinking, town. So these rural villagers and their folkways appear backwards and superstitious. But, the priest sees practices that just do not jive with Church teachings and the forest woman finds herself in a prison cell.
The film is interesting because theories about pagan superstitions are explored through the dialogue between the accused witch and the priest. Also, many occurrences that are known to have happened are depicted, such as the priest ordering a sacred tree to be chopped down and destroyed (this is documented to have happened all over Europe, and even in Mediterranean areas).
I really enjoyed this film and highly recommend it. Anyone interested in Medieval history and pre-Christian folkways will enjoy this film. The entire film can be viewed online for free on YouTube! We’ve also added the DVD to our shop 🙂
~ Aelfwynne ~