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Ronita Torcato

A little chit, a little chat, a little bit of this & that;meaning news, views & lotsa reviews from an independent journo based in Bombay aka Mumbai




Nicolas Cage is one of my favourite actors. Even when he features in faltu
films like Bangkok Dangerous. Having starred in Dominic Sena's Gone in 60 Seconds,  

he reteams with the director in a  supernatural tale which has been  released in
India in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.
Set in medieval Europe, SEASON OF THE WITCH stars Cage as  the Crusader knight
Behman with Ron Perlman, as the knight Felson for a comrade in arms in the fight against
"infidels" ( an epithet usually  employed by Muslim extremists on the "other")
It's a  long and messy  war  ( waged with a view to regaining the Holy  Land) and it is only after wanton (to my mind) and "righteous" killing  sanctioned by
numerous belief systems, (only read  the Old Testament, Koran and Mahabharat to name just three texts) that Behman ealises, in an epiphanic moment on the battlefield, much like our very own (Indian)  Emperor Ashoka,  that innocents are being slaughtered.
 Behman confronts the authorities,ecclesiastical and martial, refusing to obey the Church, (but not the one true God).
Unsurprisingly, both knights are imprisoned as deserters.

It is a time when the Black Pestilence devastated Europe; the Old Testament would attribute  this as divine retribution or chastisement from God,

 but the clergy in "Season of the witch" attribute the loathsome disease to the devilry of witches and strike a deal with
the two knights to deliver an young girl accused to witchcraft and worse (Claire Foy) to
a distant monastery for trial and a ritual involving a sacred text ( a fictional Book of Solomon).

The  film adopts a balanced  approach inasmuch as it  castigates the Church for
hanging women on false accusations of witchcraft, and vindicates those believe that diabolical powers are at work.
But then, the script plays out predictably. When Felson tells Behman, he longs to drink wine with him in the village of
his boyhood, you know that will not come to pass. When Foy emotes with woebegone and/or knowing looks from within her iron cage,
  you know there's more to her than meets the eye. And when the good priest (Stephen Campbell Moore)  cries in anguishm, " God  will not abandon us"  you  think of the Jews and Hiroshima and  Rwanda and little orphans everywhere. 
But you also think of a God who suffers WITH humanity. When the priest says,"prayer is
our only salvation" and recites the Lord's Prayer in the climactic battle; you
wonder if the film is going to prove him  wrong. Mercifully, it doesn't.
The film would have struck a proper balance had it included divine intervention
at some point.  Alas, Hollywood finds it  more convenient ( and more exciting?) to depict only
the forces  of evil.

"Season"  is bloody but not spectacular. Look out for a couple of  scary sequences and generally good  performances though from the cast, especially the knights errant and Christopher Lee in a cameo as a dying prelate.

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About Ronita Torcato

Torcato Agnela Ronita
An incomplete round-up of movie news, features & views from an independent journo & (dare I say it:-) film critic in Mumbai



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