Making the Grades
In Season of the Witch, Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman star as a pair of weathered knights who have spent the last decade fighting the enemies of God. Spurred on by the pious petitions of a priest, they engage in each battle as casually as a couple of guys headed in for a day at the office. But both men face the harsh reality of their crusades when they, along with the rest of their legion, storm a city and slay all the citizens holed up inside, most of which are women and children. Rethinking their vows, Behmen (Cage) and Felson (Perlman) leave their posts and return to their country only to find the villages and cities floundering in the midst of the plague.
In one town, the two deserters are discovered. They are given the choice of rotting in a dungeon or transporting a suspected witch (Claire Foy) to a monastery where she will face trial for bringing the widespread sickness upon the population. Traveling with the two men is another knight who is mourning the loss of his wife and children (Ulrich Thomsen). Also in the group is the priest Debelzag (Stephen Campbell Moore), a swindling salesman (Stephen Graham) forced to show them the route to the abbey, and a young alter boy (Robert Sheehan) who dreams of being knighted.
The priest warns the others about the caged girl’s ability to play on a person’s doubts. But when she secretly confides to Behmen that the priest has been abusing her, the knight begins to wonder whom to trust.
Like many movies that deal with demonic themes, we’re pretty confident not all of the travelers will make it to the final destination. The question is who will go first. Unfortunately the deaths portrayed are often detailed. Swords are thrust completely through victims. Men are decapitated and a trio of suspected witches are hung and then drowned. Equally graphic are the pustulating sores covering the faces and bodies of dying humans and rotting corpses.
In addition to the violent portrayals, the story often feels muddled and the script suffers from several dialogue anachronisms. (At least I found it hard to swallow some of the current vernacular offhandedly tossed around by these knights.) But for many viewers, the depiction of devilish characters, demonic figures and other satanic themes will also be problematic.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Season of the Witch.
How does Behmen justify leaving the crusade? Do you agree with his argument?
How is religion portrayed in this film? Is there a difference between religion and religious leaders?
How does the suspected witch play on the weaknesses and fears of the men who are transporting her?