Review of Maleficarum at IMDB.

Inquisition standard in Lima, Peru, around 1700, probably a true story, made like a documentary.

9/10
Author: clanciai from Sweden
11 May 2015

This is a very remarkable film for its total restraint in depicting a story of extreme outrage. It brings associations directly to the Danish director Carl Th. Dreyer and his films, especially “The Day of Wrath” 1943, but maybe more specifically to “The Passion of Jeanne d’Arc”, since this is also a close-up of the martyrdom of woman, in this instance even doubly so, since there are two.

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The story in itself is the ghastliest possible, the two young ladies prosecuted by the inquisition for forbidden love being tortured one by one while the other one is forced to look on in increasingly accelerating cruelty to extract a forced confession of witchery. When the confession finally is accomplished, they are subjected to no less severe punishment none the less in a total judicial murder, just because of the greed of the church to obtain the property of the one young ladý who from her parents has inherited the greatest fortune in Peru – this is somewhere around 1700. The film is accompanied all through by the most intimately pleasing chamber music, mainly guitar, which enhances the grotesqueness of the terror proceedings even more.

The director Jac Avila from Bolivia is also the writer and the producer of the film, and it is definitely a masterpiece, with the vital contribution of Amy Hesketh as the main victim – her acting is quite comparable with Maria Falconetti’s in “The Passion of Jeanne d’Arc”. Still, the torture scenes, that never cease to get worse and seem more endless each time, must make this film unbearable to many, and it’s impossible for anyone, I think, not to look away more often than not. A masterpiece of a genius making a deep and lasting impression – an unforgettable film, that however you would not like to see again. The impression is too strong not to leave you almost as branded as the victims.

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