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Witchfinder General$
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Ian Cooper

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781906733513

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906733513.001.0001

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(p.57) Chapter 3. Analysis
Witchfinder General

Ian Cooper

Liverpool University Press

This chapter offers a detailed analysis of Michael Reeves's Witchfinder General (1968). Landscape and history are two of the key elements of Witchfinder General and they are used in such a way as to consciously evoke the Western genre. With the possible exception of film noir, there is no other genre that presents the landscape as a character, rather than simply a setting. Ronald Bassett's source novel also evokes the Western: both in terms of action and thematically. One of the reasons for the striking use of landscape is the way Reeves and Tom Baker wrote the script around the locations. Rather than hand the completed script to a location manager, they sought out suitable scenery as they wrote. If Witchfinder General looks back to the B-movie Westerns of Budd Boetticher and Anthony Mann, it also anticipates the violent revenge Westerns of the 1970s and the sexual violence in a number of them.

Keywords:   Michael Reeves, Witchfinder General, landscape, Western genre, Ronald Bassett, Tom Baker, B-movie Westerns, revenge Westerns

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