The Witches of Akelarre: A Great Feminist Film [critique]

When the past illuminates the present. An intense and fascinating journey to the time of the Inquisition and its misogyny brandished as a banner.

“Nothing is more dangerous than a woman who dances” This sentence launched by one of the protagonists of Witches of Akelarre alone sums up this fifth feature by Argentinian Pablo Agüero whose action in 1609 takes us to the heart of the Basque Country. There are six of these dancing young women, arrested precisely for this manifestation of sorority and joy in the heart of a forest, considered a diabolical ceremony by the Spanish crown. The latter then sends a young judge to the scene with a clear mission: to manage so that they are condemned for witchcraft. If the previous Agüero, Eva is not sleeping – around Eva Peron – suffered from a certain theatricality which kept at a distance, here background and form come together for a great feminist film.

The Argentinean first of all has this talent for filming this freedom of these women, so unbearable to be accepted by the overwhelming male power of the Inquisition. Like this superb shot which opens the film of their hair waving sensually in the wind. He does not get lost in a work of reconstruction of the time but focuses on the Kafkaesque absurdity of the situation, the suffocating sensation experienced by these heroines whose only crime is to want to be free of their movements. Served by a nervous staging and lively editing, The Witches of Akelarre is driven by the idea that what her heroines experienced yesterday is what other women suffer today, the first victims of the authoritarian powers imposed by religious extremists. A parallel all the more powerful since it is never pressed.

Of Pablo Agüero. With Alex Brendemühl, Amaia Aberasturi, Daniel Fanego … Duration : 1h32

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