Salem Witch Trials (2002)






Director:     Joseph Sargent.

Starring:     Kirstie Alley (Ann Putnam), Henry Czerny (Rev. Samuel Parris), Gloria Reuben (Tituba Indian), Jay O. Sanders (Thomas Putnam), Kristin Booth (Lizzy Porter), Katie Boland (Annie Putnam), Alan Bates (Sir William Phips), Rebecca De Mornay (Elizabeth Parris), Peter Ustinov (William Stroughton), Shirley MacLaine (Rebecca Nurse), Shannon Lawson (Bridget Bishop), Colin Fox (Israel Porter), Camille Wainwright (Sarah Hawthorne), David Hemblen (John Proctor), Susan Coyne (Sarah Good).

witch hunting started by greedy people and backed up by an evil reverend



Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

In church a group of girls in Salem, Massachusetts act as if they were possessed by the devil. Ann Putnam gets up and says that these girls are not "possessed" but rather "afflicted". One girl, Annie Putnam, runs to the front of the church and says that they are biting her. The minister asks her what is it that afflicts her? A witch. So the girl looks around to see who to blame and she points at a woman in the congregation known as Betty Good.

The woman is removed from the church by dragging her out. Annie keeps yelling over and over again: "Stop it!" What theatrics! The accused has a daughter and she cries out for her mother. An older woman, Rebecca Nurse, holds her back.

Goody Osborne speaks up on behalf of the accused saying the children are mistaken. So the children all accuse Goody Osborne of being a witch. And now even greater theatrics are used by the girls.

Another girl accuses Tituba Indian of being a witch.

Ten months earlier. Winter, 1691. Salem Village, Massachusetts Colony.

"It is seventy-one years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, and England has not yet signed a formal charter. The new world, still a wilderness frontier, has no clear governing body. The winters are bitterly cold, there is little food or dry wood to burn, and hostile Indians threaten this small outpost of settlers. The only existing law is provided by the Puritan Church, which demands that individual sins be cleansed through public humiliation. Into this world a handful of girls are about to unleash a terror so great that it will forever curses the town of Salem."

A Walcott building in the village is burning. A young daughter named Lizzy Porter tells her father that it is not Christian not to help put the fire out. Father says that the Walcotts are kin to Thomas Putnam and Putnam would probably throw him into the fire.

Rev. Samuel Parris writes in a notebook his next sermon. His wife Elizabeth tells him about the fire. She also asks if it might be the work of the Indians. The reverend walks through the woods to get to the fire. Along the way he prays asking God to calm the fear that afflicts him.

There are a lot of Salem residents working to put the fire out, but it looks like the fire is wining.

Ann Putnam is giving birth to a baby. The midwife asks daughter Annie Putnam to bring a candle over so she can see what she is doing. Annie seems fearful of the birthing process and is frozen in place. She drops the candle on the floor. A baby boy is delivered, but he is still-born. Ann starts crying over the loss of her baby.

A young girl's dress catches fire at the barn. She is able to extinguish the flames and then runs off into the woods. Frightened, the girl imagines she sees hostile Indians in the woods, one of whom puts a knife to her throat. She is much relieved when she realizes that it was just her imagination.

The men putting out the ashes left by the fire start talking about how the fire started. One of the men says that it was a specter, a witch.

The midwife rushes to the now burned down barn and tells Thomas Putnam that the baby was still-born. Thomas seems frozen in place. It takes him awhile before he speaks and he says: "What if Goodman Tarbell was right about the specters? And now this. Is a dark force with us?" Thomas rides his horse back home, but then he turns the horse around and starts riding away from the house.

Ann Putnam asks her daughter to bring the dead baby to her so she can hold the baby boy. Annie does not want to do that, but her mother insists. She steps back in horror as mother kisses the dead baby boy.

Thomas goes to the pub. He tells a group of men that forces of darkness are afflicting the village of Salem. He asks the men to support "our minister". Half of the people still go to church in town and not to the church of the local minister. Thomas says it's time to split from the town for the town does not serve the real interests of the village.

A man says that it's not the interests of the village that Thomas Putnam is concerned about, but rather the interests of Thomas Putnam himself. After all, it was the Putnams who brought Rev. Parris to the village. Thomas ignores the accusations and declares that the villagers need to be united to fight the forces of darkness.

A funeral ceremony is held and the baby boy is buried.

Rebecca Nurse tells Ann Putnam that she must eat something.  Ann does not want to eat. So Rebecca and the reverend knell down with her to say a prayer. Ann starts imagining that Rebecca is taking the three still-born babies away from her and she shouts aloud asking where are they taking them and why? Thomas tells her to stop that.

Now Ann says to the reverend that she has lost three children at birth and asks why is God doing this to her?

In a field the girls are digging up something. They hear a bird singing and wonder what kind could it be. They follow the sound down to the river and there see William Proctor up in a tree making bird sounds. The girls ask him for the songs of different birds and William produces these too.

Annie Putnam really likes William and she is angered by the way he flirts with another girl. Annie tells William to stop that bird calling because it's sinful. When the other girls disagree with her, Annie takes off running.

Two naked women are tied to the back of a wagon and have to walk along with it. Then a clothed woman accused of railing and scolding her husband is put on the back of the wagon. There are other women already standing up on the back of the wagon.

The reverend comes out and yells and screams at the sinful women. They will be driven to all the villages in the area to show people who are the sinners among the women of Salem. The reverend makes reference to the influence of witchcraft on the women. Annie listens intently to this. She starts throwing apples at the women.

The servant Tituba Indian is a card reader and she tells the girls in the house that she was taught card reading when she was in Barbados.

The reverend in the church is a bit too much to take. Women asking him to forgive them are denounced further. One woman says: "I have sinned. Now I have repented. Why won't you hear it? Where is your forgiveness? Can you honestly swear before God that you have never sinned yourself?" The reverend tells her that she will will burn in the fires of hell for her terrible behavior.

Anne Putnam gets up and says there is some weakness in her soul that makes her question her religious convictions and that's why her three children died. She asks the reverend to please tell her what's she's done, so she can find forgiveness. The reverend doesn't answer her question, but rather tells her do not lose your faith.

The reverend is lost in thought at the dinner table and walks out of the house saying something about what else can he do for these people?

Anne is shopping when another woman says that apparently it is not enough for Thomas Putnam to sue her for her land, for now he wants to take her wood to help pay the salary for the reverend. Another woman says that the Putnams are not tithing much at all. A third woman criticizes Ann.

In the middle of the night, Anne leaves her home to go see the "witch" Bridget Bishop for help in soothing her soul. Bridget warns Anne that if she is seen here, she will be excommunicated from her church. Anne says she is already in hell. What she wants to know is why are her children dying at birth?

Annie has followed her mother and sees her with the witch. She hears Bridget tell her mother that she is not a witch, but she knows that Anne is not to blame. She then tells Anne to come into her tiny house and she will tell her all about what she knows of birthing.

At the dinner table, Annie is jealous of the family's Jack Russell terrier, because her father fawns all over the dog with lots of love and attention, while she gets none. Annie suddenly starts barking like a dog.  Ann tells her daughter to stop it, but Annie only tells her that Bridget Bishop is a witch. Her father tells her to stop it and her mother tells her to stop it, but Annie keeps on barking and saying that Bridgit Bishop is Satan's witch.

A new village proclamation spells out strict punishments for somewhat innocuous behaviors. This makes some of the village men very angry. Joseph Putnam receives a cold reception when he stops to talk to the men. Joseph tells the men that he did not come to talk about the proclamation. He has found a very fancy Indian carving and he wants Lizzy's father to give the carving to his daughter. Dad says that this is Joseph's way of saying that he cares for Lizzy and want to make it official. Yes. Dad tells him he expects Joseph to come visit him and the family (and, of course, Lizzy too).

One afternoon Joseph Putnam comes to the home of Lizzy for a visit. Her mother says that many in the community give Joseph a hard time. She says: "Because his mother was not theirs." His mother left most of her estate and lands to Joseph alone. "They shall never forgive him and he has no other family."

Joseph talks to Mr. Israel Porter, who tells him that his grandfather and Joseph's grandfather were the richest men in Salem. But in the future wealth will come from shipping. And the Putnams do not understand this. Joseph says: "I'm more outcast than Putnam." Dad says and that's why he accepts Joseph as the husband-to-be for his daughter Lizzy. "I would like to offer you the future." Dad also likes the idea of combining the Porter wealth with the Putnam wealth with which they say will bring the future to "us".

Joseph tells his brother Thomas about his plan to marry a Porter. Thomas absolutely forbids Joseph to marry Lizzy. Thomas is furious because he sees this move as part of Israel Porter's larger plan to take more Putnam land from the Putnams. Joseph tells his brother if brother strikes him with his hand, brother will lose that hand.

The wedding is held in the Porter home. It's too late to stop the wedding, but Thomas Putnam arrives after the wedding and tells Israel that he will pay for this treachery.

Thomas goes to talk to the reverend. He puts the blame on the reverend for the lack of order Thomas sees in Salem.

The reverend's wife is sick of her house being always so cold. The villagers are not providing them with the promised wood. And she is sickly with a bad cough. This does not bode well for the wife of the reverend.

Thomas Putnam and the council assess a tax on people's wood. A crew and the sheriff go around taking the wood from the villagers.

Tituba takes a bath in a tub. She plays splash the water with the two young sisters. The reverend comes into the room and is frozen by the loveliness of Tituba. Tituba sees him and stops playing. This stops the girls. They look around and see their frozen father by the front door. The reverend unfreezes and leaves the house. The daughters are left in wonderment at the reaction of their father.

At night Tituba sings to the two daughters in their beds. Meanwhile, the reverend is out in the stables flogging his back until it bleeds. He talks about the evil of physical lust.

In his next sermon, the reverend talks about eliminating the evil of lust in the parishioners. He almost seems possessed by the devil and he frightens the children. "People lust, people lie. Children lie as well. . . Hell is a terrible place . . . and it waits for you."

The reverend also scared his own daughters. The small one is afraid to go outside because Satan is out there and will get her. They won't go out even if mother commands them to go. Her mother has her two daughters pray for forgiveness for they have sinned in not minding father and mother.

Porter and his friends vote Thomas Putnam off the village committee. Putnam is furious and rails against the committee. Most of the men seem to believe that Putnam is using the reverend and the committee to take their lands away from them. One man says: "Mr. Putnam, you mistake your own self-interests for God's will. This hypocrisy must stop."

Israel Porter stands up and says he will appoint his brother Joseph Porter and his brother-in-law to the committee and if he wants a Putnum on the committee he will put Joseph Putnam on the committee.

Joseph and Lizzy talk at home. She says that the town seems divided in half now. Joseph says it's not that bad. Oh yeah, many villagers are talking about witches and witchcraft in Salem. Lizzy confesses that she is scared. She's scared for herself and her child.

Thomas Putam brings the signed document of the new committee for the minister to see. He says they are going to strip the minister of his pay and his piece of land. The reverend says: "These are the men who would wage war on a Puritan minister."

Ann Putnam hears and sees her husband praying late at night. She wonders if God is still listening to them. She asks Thomas to touch her like a wife is touched for she wants to know that he does not blame her for this recent turn of bad luck for them. She says she will bring him another child. Thomas says what use is it since the child will be still-born. He tells her to go to sleep.

The reverend talks with his wife about the bad atmosphere around the village. She says she hopes that they will not have to move again and lose everything. This makes the minister mad. He accuses her of having lost all faith in him and leaves the room.

Tituba cracks an egg into a bowl and she and the girls watch the resulting yoke formation. They look for some sign in the pattern. Tituba is called to do something for the reverend's wife. Annie says it's her turn now. She breaks an egg and punctures the yoke and swirls it around. The other girls start saying that they see a dead man's coffin in the mixture. The girls start panicking and acting very scared. Worse than that, they say that Annie's sign has condemned them all to hell. They all start acting as if they were possessed. The reverend comes and and asks them what's going on?

So now lots of adults are super concerned about the girls and ask what is it that afflicts the children? And in a little while more the whole town is talking about what happened to a bunch of local girls. Rebecca Nurse says that this is witchcraft. One the men says that the girls are possessed by the devil. A woman now asks if the girls might be witches themselves? "I think that should not be ruled out," says the man.

Alone in the church, Ann Putnam prays to God to cure her children. Rebecca Nurse comes into the church and sits down beside Anna. Anna is so scared that she has offended God that is bringing all this madness to Salem. Rebecca tries to tell her that's just not true, but Ann won't change her mind.

Betty Good and her child come to see Ann, who tells her that she has nothing to give Betty today. Betty says she wants to pay her Christian respects to the children. The girls are upstairs in bed staring at the ceiling. Betty now is convinced that the girls themselves are possessed and are witches as others have said in the village. Ann tells Betty that if any harm comes to the girls because of her wicked tongue, she will make sure that Betty will regret it.

Lizzy Putnam comes to see the minister about a terrible nightmare she had. She was sure there was a man in the room with her, but she could not see the person. Lizzy became very afraid this may have been Satan. Minister Parris tells her that he has been watching her at prayer and she says such lovely prayers. So, it is not surprising that Satan would want to possess Lizzy, who now worries if she is possessed. The minister grabs her right hand and holds it close to him asking her to pray with him.

Tituba is upstairs talking to the silent children laying in their beds. She talks of them being possessed. The minister comes up behind Tituba and tells her to stop talking like that to the children. He tells her to attend to the mistress of the house. Tituba leaves.

The reverend starts demanding that one of the girls answer him because the devil does not possess them. He starts shaking the girl, but is stopped by the appearance of Rebecca Nurse. The reverend starts crying while asking why this is happening.

Reverend Parris talks to the congregation. He quotes Jesus at the Last Supper saying to his apostles: "Have I not chosen you twelve? Yet one of you is the devil's disciple." And, says the reverend, there are such devil's disciples in this church. And now the girls in the church start acting up. One falls to the floor twitching. Others start really crying loudly. Some double over as if in terrible pain. So now it appears that all the female children in the church are becoming afflicted.

Back to the present. Annie starts pointing out witches among the congregation.

So now the jail starts filling up with witches. The Reverend starts slapping Tituba hard across the face telling her to confess that she is a witch.

At the reverend's house, his wife tells him that she can't believe that Tituba is a witch.

The reverend is back in church and trying the women as witches. Tituba comes up for trial now. Remembering the slapping frenzy she received from the reverend, she quickly confesses to being a witch. And, she says, there are more witches in the congregation.




The women accused of being witches are extremely mad at Tituba because she confessed to being a witch. Tituba tells them that the reverend beats her and that's why she said she was a witch.

The reverend wants the witches hanged for they are certainly Satan's witches. There is, however, no law saying that witches will be hanged. Thomas Putnam says that Increase Mather is expected to be arriving from England right now.

The girls are still acting like they are in a catatonic state. The reverend's wife comes at night and cries over her youngest daughter. The girl feels bad so she breaks the acting and looks straight at her mother. In fact, the girl whispers to her that what they are afraid of is not Satan but God.

Lizzy is praying up a storm and her husband tells her to stop it. She won't or can't stop so he forces her to stand up and asks her what is happening to her?  Lizzy says she is afraid of not being pure enough for their baby.

Sleeping in his bed, a PuritanWalcott has a dream or a nightmare. It is of a temptress, Brigit Bishop, sitting on top of him trying to seduce him. She sticks a finger in his mouth and suddenly Thomas can't catch a breath of air. He awakens from the fright of the dream.

A new barn is being constructed to replace the old one that burned out. Suddenly the daughter of the house, May, starts running from the house acting hysterically. Mother and father have to chase her down. The girl says a witch is burning her flesh. One of the volunteers says he knows who it is.  It's Bridgit Bishop.

The men have come armed with torches to pay her a little visit. But Bridgit is not home. The accuser throws his torch into the home and soon the whole structure is ablaze.

Bridgit shows up at Ann Putnam's house saying that they are after her. They have already burned her home to the ground. She wants Ann to hide her. Ann acts like she's frightened and she backs up from the woman. Annie Putnam now starts making hissing noises at Bridgit. Thomas Putnam comes downstairs and when Bridget sees him, she takes off.

The reverend is going to scare the congregation again, so he asks that the children be spared his sermon. On their way out a woman accuses the girls of creating this mischief. Annie looks around to see who is speaking. Annie has a vengeful look on her face so probably this accuser will be the next one accused of being a witch.  And sure enough the next morning the female accuser is taken from her home as a witch.

Increase Mather arrives and comes to speak with William Stroughton. With him Increase brings the charter finally signed by King William and Queen Mary. Bursting into the room comes Sir William Phips. Increase explains that this man is the new governor of Massachusetts. William Stroughton knows this man as an adventurer. He actually laughs at the very idea of this man being the Governor of Massachusetts. Phips is here also to handle the problem of witchcraft in the colony.

The new women brought in as witches tell the earlier accused that there is a new Governor of Massachusetts and it is said that he might be more favorable to the plight of the women accused of being witches.

Phips and Stroughton arrive in Salem. Phips tells Thomas Putnam that he was impressed that Thomas is the main character in bringing charges against the women accused of being witches. Thomas is proud of this. Phips adds that two of the accusers are the Putnam girls. Then he says he was amazed that so many of the accused were women whose families had been in land disputes with Thomas himself.

When Thomas starts to protest Phips says he has always been curious about the coincidences of life. Phips now turns his attention to the reverend who has been at almost all of the interrogations of the accused. The reverend says yes he has been present at 27 of these interrogations. Phips asks how many of the 27 does the reverend think are guilty? 27 is the response. Phips is amazed: 26 of the 27 women pleaded their innocence.  It is obvious that Phips is highly skeptical about the justice being dealt out in Salem. So Stroughton supports the witch interrogations saying that these women are all servants or wives of Satan. "Their specters have afflicted a score of innocent girls."

Phips says he has to travel to the frontier of the colony. He will put these matters into the hands of the deputy governor. As soon as the governor leaves, Stroughton tells the men to go quickly and shackle the women in the jail as this will help contain their specters.

Stroughton now goes up to see the reverend's children. The girls are playing a game while sitting at a table. He says hello to them and then tells the reverend that the girls do not appear to be afflicted. So, as not to be seen as fakes, the two girls start to go into their acts. The smaller girl goes into a fake catatonic state. Stroughton asks for a lit candle and passes it under the girl's left forearm. The girl's face does twitch, but she does not try to pull her forearm away from the fire of the candle. Stroughton seems convinced now and says they will proceed to trial.

The reverend wants Tituba, his tempter and seducer, tried first. Stroughton rejects that idea because Tituba is the only one who confessed. He wants to handle the other 26 women first, because these women think they can go free without any punishments for their crimes.

Sarah Good gives birth to a baby in jail. Bridgit Bishop has to go to trial for witchcraft. In the trial the girls play their parts well, acting as if Bridget bewitched them. Stroughton is the judge and he says that they have "spectral evidence" of the crimes of Bridget. And the man who had the sexual dream about Bridgit tells his tale of midnight seduction by Bridget. This shocks the congregation. Bridgit is declared a witch and will be hanged. (Ann Putnam feels so guilty about not standing up for Bridget, but like many others, Ann is afraid of the witch hunters.)

Bridgit is taken in a cart to the hanging place. There is no gallows. She is not really being hanged so much, as slowly strangled to death by the noose around her neck. Ann has a vision of Bridgit talking to her. Bridget says she will pray for Ann. Then Bridget turns her back to Ann and the vision now is of a dead Bridgit holding up Ann's three deceased babies.

At home Ann sees a white-haired, female specter rocking in a rocking chair. Thomas tries to get Ann to tell him who exactly is it who came to plague Ann.

Elizabeth Parris sees the burn mark on her child's left forearm. She demands to know who did this to her. The small girl says it was Rev. Stroughton. Elizabeth with the two girls now come down to the reverend and tell him that they cannot stay in Salem while all this about witches and witchcraft goes on and on.

The Reverend says that she cannot leave the house. He is worried about what people might say if the main witch interrogator has two girls who are afflicted. Now Elizabeth tells him that the girls are not afflicted. They are frightened of their father. She blames her husband of being afraid himself and transferring this fear not only to their children but to the whole village of Salem. "Can you not see what you've done?"

He tries to continue the conversation, but Elizabeth is headed for the way out of the house. She says if the reverend tries to stop her, she will speak out "from my heart". She and the children leave.

The reverend, speaking to Stroughton, now tries to give an acceptable excuse for the females in his house having left for someplace other than Salem. The old man asks: "There is order in your house, is there not, reverend?" Oh, yes, says the reverend. The two pass Giles Corey who is pleading with people to believe him that his wife is not a witch, but a victim of mischief.

So now Giles Corey has to appear before the judge, accused of witchcraft. Giles says he won't even dignify the charge against him by entering a plea. Annie Putnam now starts breathing heavily. Huge stones are placed upon Giles until he chooses to enter a plea. He stays out in the rain all night and into the next day. So they put another huge stone upon him.

Now there is going to be a mass strangulation by rope. Ann Putnam is so upset that she doesn't think she can continue to watch this spectacle. Rebecca Nurse tells her to be strong for this is a test of their own faith in God.

One of the five "witches" gets so scared that she confesses to being a witch. So, they won't hang this one confessed "witch".

Rebecca still works at calming Ann down saying this is God's will. Ann wants to know but where is God's forgiveness? Rebecca says: "They have sinned against us." Ann shouts at Rebecca: "Then, where is your forgiveness?"

The wagon is moved out from under the women's feet and the slow strangulation begins. By this time, Ann is in an hysterical state and starts crying loudly and crawling on the grass. She shouts: "You cannot murder them!"

The reverend sees smoke coming from his chimney, so he thinks his wife and children have come back home. He goes into the house and calls out for Elizabeth. But the only person there is Lizzy, who is trying to be a good Christian by helping with the housework.

The jailors come into the large cell and take out the baby that has died. Another woman has died and they remove her body too. And now they put a five year girl into the cell as a witch.

Ann Putnam is going crazy. The reverend demands to know who is afflicting her? She gives out a name: Rebecca Nurse.

Two men come to see Rebecca Nurse. They say the afflicted have once again cried out and named another witch. Rebecca says, oh, those poor girls. Israel holds her right hand and tells her: "They have cried out against you."

And now Rebecca in shackles is pushed into the jail cell. The women are shocked to see her here.

Israel goes around trying to get people to sign a document saying that Rebecca Nurse is not a witch. Many say she's not a witch, but they are too afraid to sign the document. The Walcott woman says that Rebecca is not safe. A man helping Israel retorts that it's not safe to allow Rebecca to be declared a witch, because if she's a witch, then anyone can be declared a witch including Mrs. Walcott.

Joseph Putnam signs the document. Another young man also signs.

Phipps calls the main witch hunters to his office. He says he is concerned about this petition against the witch hunters because it is signed by Israel Porter and John Proctor, who are two outstanding men of Salem.  And then what about Rebecca Nurse? 39 people have signed the petition that she is not a witch and should be released from jail. Long story short, the governor puts a ban on the hanging of any more persons, unless there is corroborating evidence to back up the "spectral evidence".

The church is virtually empty when Rebecca has to come before the judge. He tells Rebecca to take off all her clothes, for she is to be examined for any marks of the devil on her body. She says she won't disrobe in front of the men. Then she begs not to have to strip naked.  The two midwives start taking off Rebecca's clothes. She has to stand there naked with her arms thrust up toward heaven. One of the midwives says she sees a witch's teat on Rebecca's body, but the other midwife says it's just a mole.

The woman who confessed being a witch, Mary Lacey, is now corroborated. They want names from Mary. So Annie Putnam says it's John Proctor and Mary says yes.

Lizzy is still doing housework for the reverend. She says she has faith in him as she has faith in the Lord. The reverend thanks her.

Now John Proctor and his wife are arrested for witchcraft. John puts up a defiant defense of himself and his wife, saying that all this spectral evidence is a bunch of lies. Stroughton says he can prove that the girls are not lying. He asks Annie Putnam to stand up and walk over to her tormentor, John Proctor.  Ann says no, no, no. The reverend grabs her and forces her over to John Proctor. Stroughton tells her if she will just touch her tormentor, her torment will be taken from her. Annie screams and screams, but finally, with force from the reverend, Annie touches Proctor. And now Annie is no longer afflicted by her tormentor.

And the real-genius judge finds Proctor guilty. Israel comes up to say that all this is nonsense and John says he has harmed nobody. Israel says John is on trial only because of his opposition to the Putnam family.

Despite the governor's ban, they are going to hang four more people accused of witchcraft. Two of these people are John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse. Proctor is not going to die quietly. He starts railing against the reverend saying he is going to hang simply because Parris himself has taken on the role of God.

That doesn't stop the reverend for he tells the hangman not to delay for this man and Rebecca Nurse are both guilty. Rebecca's son starts yelling out against the hangings saying "You shall not murder my mother!" Ann Putnam now yells that Rebecca is innocent and it was she, Ann, who made a mistake.

At home Ann says that people are dying because they opposed the will of Thomas Putnam, but it is not a crime before God to oppose Thomas Putnam. This infuriates Thomas. "This village is being cleansed of your enemies," says Ann. She now tells her husband that even if she will hang for this, she will put a stop to this witch hunting. "I shall speak out."

Lizzy's water breaks on a village road. She yells for Ann to help her. She gives birth to a baby girl. When the husband Joseph comes to see his wife, Ann warns Joseph to be aware that the baby may turn out to be an outcast.

Both Joseph and Lizzy, plus the baby, are thrown into prison.

60 witches have been uncovered in Andover. And now the child fakers of Salem are lent out to other settlements to uncover the witches there.

Elizabeth Putnam is called to come out of the cell. She has a visitor: Rev. Parris. He tells her that if she confesses, her life will be spared. He says he is absolutely convinced of her innocence and he is risking everything to save her life. Lizzy asks what about the other women and her husband? The reverend says that her husband is a warlock and the others are witches. Elizabeth laughs at him. She says they are all innocent.  Elizabeth adds: "We are all damned in this place, because of you." Then she goes on to say that she would rather die in prison than be with the reverend and his God.

Ann's mental illness is getting worse and worse. Thomas calls for the Reverend.

The governor learns the name of the next victim of the holy squad of liars.

The governor and his wife with many men arrive in Salem. He bursts through the church doors and Stroughton shouts: "We are at prayer here!" The governor keeps walking toward Stroughton. He tells the man: "I believe your work is done here, reverend."

He introduces his wife to the congregation and says that the court has called his wife a servant of Satan. Facing the girl sinners, he asks: "Which of you called out her name first?" Ann lies and says it was she who called out her name. The governor asks if this woman, his wife, looks like a witch?  Cleverly, Ann answers: "She seems as much a witch as the others were."

The governor asks Stroughton if his wife looks like a witch? The wicked reverend says in this case, they may have been deceived by Satan. Now the governor really starts yelling: "I believe you were deluded by your own fears and weaknesses and had the arrogance to call this feeble, human delusion God's will." Stroughton starts objecting to this, but the governor silences him by asking a simple question: "Where was your heart in your search for Godliness and faith? Did you not even once press yourselves to heed, if not logic, then simple humanity?" His last questions is: "How did this happen here?"

"In January of 1693, Sir William Phips reprieved the sentences of all the remaining witches awaiting execution. In all twenty innocent people were killed. Tituba Indian, unable to pay her prison fees, remained in jail until she was sold to a new home."

"The impact of the Salem Witch Trials was so profound that it brought down an entire way of life, marking the end of Puritanism and the beginning of what would eventually become America."

"At the insistence of their descendants, the last five of those accused of witchcraft were officially pardoned by the state of Massachusetts on October 31, 2001."



Terrific film. Talk about inhumanity and crimes against humanity! The Puritans of old let themselves be carried away by an evil fear of witches and witchcraft. Now I know that the Catholic faith doesn't want their parishioners believing in things like witches, warlocks and goblins. They don't approve of the celebration of Halloween.

This film is especially interesting because it gives some of the other possible reasons for why witch fever took over in Salem. The charge is that Thomas Putnam uses the cry of witch and witches to punish those residents which were involved in land squabbles with Putnam. He was one of the main accusers, along with his daughter Annie Putnam. Somehow (LOL) Annie knew who her dad was fighting.

Thomas Putnam then picked his own reverend and set him up in a new church in Salem. The church was not that keen about the new reverend and the reverend was frightened about losing his position as reverend at the church and be forced to start over again somewhere else, as he had already done several times before. And this reverend was a real bastard in grabbing people to hang. He preached against the sins of his congregation, not appreciating that he was perhaps the worst sinner of the lot of them.

It's not fun seeing people be hanged for something they never were or for something they supposedly did. It shows that without constant vigilance, similar types of injustices keep popping up. (One similar phenomenon was McCarthyism, which was called a bit witch hunt.)

One wrong idea is that Puritanism died after the terrible witch trials and hangings.  It would take the writings of many a future New England writer to weaken Puritanism.  Even today the USA is Puritanical and that's still a problem.   Puritanism is too harsh, too mean-spirited and too excessive.  (And Puritanism is the intellectual justification of  much of American racism.)

There were lots of good actors in the film. I especially appreciated Kristie Alley's performance as the wife of Thomas Putnam. There are lots of others who were very good, but too many to mention without cheapening the compliment.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.




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