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Kladivo na čarodějnice
1970 poster for Otakar Vavra film Witcheshammer.jpg
Directed by Otakar Vávra
Written by Otakar Vávra
Václav Kaplický
Ester Krumbachová
Starring Elo Romancik
Music by Jirí Srnka
Cinematography Josef Illík
Edited by Antonín Zelenka
Release dates
23 January 1970
Running time
103 minutes
Country Czechoslovakia
Language Czech

Witchhammer (Czech: Kladivo na čarodějnice) is a 1970 Czechoslovak drama film directed by Otakar Vávra. It is considered Vávra's magnum opus.[1] The title Malleus Maleficarum is also translated as Witches' Hammer or Witchhammer.[2]

The story of the film is based on Václav Kaplický's book Kladivo na čarodějnice (1963), a novel about witch trials in Northern Moravia during the 1670s. The black-and-white allegorical film, full of symbols, follows the events from the beginning until the trial and execution of the priest Kryštof Lautner. Unwillingness to stop the evil in the beginning only encourages the inquisitor to graduate his accusations and use torture. The vicious circle scares everyone from resistance.

These trials started when an altar boy observed an old woman hiding the bread given out during communion. He alerted the priest who confronted the old woman. She admitted that she took the bread with the intent to give it to a cow to reenable its milk production. The priest reported the incident to the owner of the local estate who, in turn, called in an inquisitor, a judge specializing in witchcraft trials. Boblig von Edelstadt, the inquisitor, commenced an ever-escalating series of trials, eventually involving hundreds of people. In the end, 112 people were burned at the stake.

The screenplay was written by Vávra and Ester Krumbachová, who also wrote the title song, an apocalyptic version of the German march "In Flandern reitet der Tod".[3]

In 1970 the film was banned by the Czechoslovakian government.[4]



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