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One disappointing thing I'm discovering about myself throughout Molly-Movie-Club is just how very susceptible I am to a lot of the more "gimmicky" features in contemporary movies: The first time I saw the Witch -- maybe 1.5 years ago? -- I really enjoyed it! I liked the sets, the costumes, the period-accurate language, the creepy music, the goat, the goat's transformation into the unseen Devil, the creepy depiction of witches, the woods, etc. etc. At my first viewing, the main thing I found unsatisfying was how the theme of the father's pride failed to resolve correctly: His initial pride leads his entire family into exile and witch-danger, but later on his seemingly sincere repentance in the raining scene where he eats the dirt is somehow totally meaningless? I wasn't sure what to make of this.
On second viewing, I found the movie a little more boring than first viewing, which I guess is a red-flag, and I still had the nagging question about the unresolved theme of pride.
Then, on listening to the podcast, and on hearing Casey's and Anna's complaints about how nothing really came together right in the film, I'm thinking "duh?! how did I not see these problems first time around?" I think there are some special paying-attention skills I do not yet possess, or need to sharpen, that enable one to look beyond the superficial aspects of the film, which are often VERY good especially in modern films.
I'm excited-nervous for Halloween; I liked it when I saw it many years ago (I should say I was impressed because I thought all slasher films were stupid, and this one wasn't). I shall have to pay closer attention on this second viewing!
The movie falls into Dune territory for me, it's disappointing because it looks like they did research to find folk tales and convey the mood of early settlements.
It's interesting that we watched that after The Shining and Psycho, in contrast I think it shows how good Kubrick and Hitchcock were with camerawork and editing. The way they used camera movements is more expressive and the timing of the shots feels more organic. Same thing with the music, even if the music of The Witch is inspired by the Shining, the music Kubrick used has a larger musical vocabulary and is more integrated with the editing. The music of Psycho is different but then again the interplay with the images is very good.
As an example, this scene in Psycho, the musical motif goes upward with Sam and turns downward when it cuts to Norman for more creepiness. The camera movement, Norman turning toward the camera and the music all go at the same speed. You don't get that level of precision in The Witch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhYhkIZt6tU (The lighting of Norman's face is also amazing in that shot.)