Saturday, 30 April 2011
'Witchfinder General' is a brutal experience from the first lynching to the last eye gouging and axe swing. Based on actual events, it was filmed in the beautiful countryside of rural Suffolk, mostly around the very pretty little village of Lavenham where I once had a memorable dirty weekend. When I remarked to my girlfriend that the film had been made there, she asked to see it. She was appalled by the violence and relentless grimness of it, and we split up shortly afterwards.
Described as an English Western by director Michael Reeves, it was received with anger and distaste by the critics (it made little Alan Bennett feel dirty, poor love) who obviously felt that the story of a man who tortured innocent women and then murdered them in the name of God and the state should have been a gentle rom com, perhaps starring Patricia Routledge.
Reeves was stung by the hostile reception and died of a barbiturates overdose shortly after the films release in circumstances that remain a mystery. My ex-girlfriend now works for Social Services in Norwich. She says 'Hi'.