THE WITCH: Pride and Destruction | FCC 116

In THE WITCH, William and his family are exiled from their community and are forced to make a life for themselves in the wilderness all because of William’s pride. Join us as we discuss these Christian themes and so much more in this episode of the Finding Christ In Cinema podcast.

For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction and Previous Episode Recap
  • 00:04:13 – Movie Discussion
  • 00:26:04 – Christian Themes in THE WITCH with guest Jonathan Tucker
  • 01:00:24 – Listener Challenge and Feedback
  • 01:04:40 – Well-mannered Frivolity
  • 01:08:10 – Lightning Round 
  • 01:11:07 – Upcoming

The Witch, Pride, and Destruction

The 1630s in New England were tumultuous times. The Puritans were one of the several religious groups who left Europe in search of a new land free from corruption. They structured their communities to hopefully reflect the heavenly land after which they sought. They strove to be “pure” and righteous before God. Part of maintaining that purity meant casting out sin and those who committed it.

We don’t know exactly why William and his family are banished from the community. William’s accusers make it clear that it has something to do with his pride, but we aren’t given any other details. Just before he leaves, however, William makes it known that he believes that his accusers are the false Christians and not him. This is only a glimpse into how destructive the sin of pride can be.

This image from THE WITCH shows William and his family praying around the dinner table.

From this moment on, the family descends into madness. Everyone blames Thomasin, the daughter caught in the middle of the greater family drama, for losing the infant Samuel. We as the audience know that it was the Witch of the Wood from the very beginning, but we have to watch as Thomasin tries and fails to convince her family that she is, in fact, blameless. What’s worse is that Thomasin mistakingly jokes about being the Witch, thus destroying her own credibility.

This family, however, isn’t just at the mercy of the Witch of the Wood. They are each other’s own antagonists. William lets his children either lie for or take the blame for his pride. Katherine, the mother, is quick to wrath and anger. Caleb is growing into adolescence and is dealing with his own lustful thoughts. Jonas and Mercy, the young twins, are disobedient to their parents and reckless in their jeering humor. It seems that everyone in the family has a sin problem except for Thomasin.

This image from THE WITCH shows Anya Taylor-Joy as Thomasin.

Thomasin’s blamelessness is perhaps the only reason she is the only one left of William’s family after everything is said and done. Without going into detail, the family literally tears itself apart. And Thomasin, once accused of being a witch, eventually signs her life over to the Devil. He’s the only one that ever guided her hand in anything anyway, right?

Robert Eggers, the originator and director of this film, set out to recreate the nightmares with which he had grown up as a young boy in the New England area. He wanted to instill within his audiences the same fears that would have circulated within those early Puritan communities as well as his own neighborhood. Whether he knows it or not, he has also given us a pristine image of how pride leads to destruction and how we as people can be just as vile to each other as any witch or devil.

Key Text

Proverbs 16:18 YLT

Before destruction [is] pride, And before stumbling–a haughty spirit.

Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes – including links to articles discussed – by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. He has his M.A. in Theatre Arts and is always looking for a way to use good stories to soften people's hearts.
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  • Philip Heard

    Hey guys, what a movie this was! I would place it above The Shining in creepiness and scariness, mainly because it is so much more understandable and a plausible picture of the downfall of a family. Everything about it from a film making standpoint was outstanding. The writing and dialogue, and successfully getting me to connect with characters, and that score was so eerie and effective. Who would have known a bunny rabbit could be so creepy? And while there was some extremely disturbing content, the director pulled back from it just enough and showed effective restraint. The film repeatedly foreshadowed things, and then subverted that foreshadowing. Assumptions about William especially did not come out, he was not a one dimensional authoritarian Puritan, and showed love and tenderness to his family that made me feel for him. My impression of him differed quite a bit from y’all’s. His pride and apparent legalism was definitely an issue, but I had empathy for him, as well as Thomasin and Caleb’s characters. I thought they were sincerely trying to follow God and were so frustratingly close to a strong relationship with Him, which is perhaps why they were such a target for Black Phillip(no relation). What strikes me most is the family’s bad theology in not understanding God’s grace and the assurance to be found in Christ’s redemption. They did not have their house built on this firm foundation, and it crumbled down on the level of a Shakespearean tragedy, as you guys mentioned. It is so important when doubts arise in our minds and hearts that we allow it to drive us to scripture and the truth to be found there, and not to wallow in our uncertainty.
    1 John 5:11-13 states “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. The one who has the Son has this eternal life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have this eternal life. I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (NET)

    Thomasin’s downfall was so sad to see, all the more because it was such a convincing tale of how someone could be led to sell their soul to Satan and become a witch. Although her decision at the end was a wrong one, you can see how she would feel she had little or no choice, with her parents and Caleb dead, her three younger siblings missing, and their homestead a wreck. What benefit of the doubt could she have expected from the colony they had left? And how could she have escaped Black Phillip at all? Better for her to choose death, but not an easy decision for the poor girl.

    A positive I get, and my favorite part of the film was Caleb’s death scene. It strikes me as fitting Brenden’s description of grotesque art a bit. It was horrific and disturbing, but it’s beauty strikes me most of all. I don’t know if Caleb was supposed to be possessed or bewitched in some manner, and theologically I hold the position that a Christian can not be possessed. However, I’ll take the filmmaker on his own terms for the sake of the story. It was an enthralling picture of spiritual warfare, as apparently Jesus and Satan battled it out for Caleb’s soul. And while some may think this battle was lost because he died, I saw victory displayed as his soul was delivered by Jesus and taken to eternal rest. It’s the only real triumph I see of good over evil in the film. And it also brings me to the thought that yes- Satan won the battle in this film, but we know and can take comfort that God will win the war in the end. This was a tough watch, but a film I plan on seeing again in the future.

    Love the show guys! #muhweeladgimli

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