spacetime coordinates: 1630s New England
The Witch (stylized as The VVitch, subtitled A New-England Folktale) is a 2015 historical period supernatural horror film written and directed by Robert Eggers in his directorial debut and stars Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger and Lucas Dawson. The film follows a Puritan family encountering forces of evil in the woods beyond their New England farm.
the film was inspired by many folktales, fairytales and written accounts of historical witchcraft, including journals, diaries and court records. much of the dialogue comes directly from the period sources. The production team worked extensively with British and American museums, as well as consulting experts on seventeenth-century British agriculture.
In order to give the film an authentic look, Eggers shot only “with natural light and indoors, the only lighting was candles.” Eggers also chose to stylize the film’s title as “The VVitch” in its title sequence and on posters, stating that he found this spelling in a Jacobean era pamphlet on witchcraft, along with other period texts.
In the Witch’s Coven scene, the chant is in Enochian which is an angelic language often used in magical rituals. It first recorded by the 16th century occultist John Dee and his partner Edward Kelley. In this particular scene, the witches are using The Eleventh Enochian Key is used to herald the coming of the dead and establish a sustenance beyond the grave. To bind to the earth. A funerary call.
In December 2013, costume designer Linda Muir joined the crew, and consulted 35 books in the Clothes of the Common People in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England series to plan the costumes. The costumes were made with wool, linen, or hemp. Muir also lobbied for a larger costume budget.
A hare appears frequently in the film. In New England superstitions, hares were considered magical creatures in their own right, but were often associated with witches, either as a witch’s familiar (called a milk-hare), which stole or spoiled milk from the farm animals, or the witch themselves, who was thought able to turn into a hare in order to spy on and influence people.