Anne is not the protagonist in the plot, but she is the centre of the story. She is the seventeenth century girl accused of witchcraft in the story. She is both intelligent and beautiful. A combination that made her threat to the puritan villagers. To understand Ann’s character, you must understand the villages attitude towards Anne and her attitude towards them.
Much of Ann’s character is portrayed the way she dresses. This shows her social standing as a noblewoman and her sophisticated culture, which many of the villagers didn’t understand. Anne wore a black dress. The dye to produce black was expensive and so was her wide brimmed capotain, which was made from pelts from the colonies. She hid her face with a visard. Visards were used in the late sixteenth century and seventeenth century to hide the identity of a ladies watching plays at theatres, as the theatre wasn’t becoming of a Lady. Later the visard was used as a sun screen to protect a lady’s completion from the sun. But for Anne, the visard like the Venetian Moretta, brought her freedom to choose her relationships. She wanted Steven to appreciate her charm and wit rather than for her good looks. In the past, she rejected suitors advances that were attracted to her beauty, believing their love was only shallow. She used her visard in this way to acquaint herself with past Steven. Steven must have felt uncomfortable with a lady being forward in this way.
Anne loves nature and loves sitting out in the fresh air, which is another thing the villagers don’t understand. To them the devil makes work for idle hands. They don’t accept her as a lady even though she apparently has some wealth.
Anne held in contempt the farmers that helped arrest her. Her attitude towards them was, they were socially beneath her. Her attitude towards the villages was, they were pious and self-righteous snobs. She was over confident regarding the lawyer they had hired, believing in her own innocence of any crime. But she didn’t know Matthew Hopkins reputation as a witch finder, (who latter was known as the witch finder general).
She misjudged the situation when she was arrested. She used her sharp wit against the first farmer accusing of being witch with the words, “Go away, you are scaring the birds”, and treating him with contempt. She glared at a second farmer who tore her hat and bonnet off to expose her witch’s hair. The farmers were trying to unmask her both physically and figitively. The second farmer accused her of giving him the evil eye. This levitated their superstition and fear, and then they scratched her to counter her magic. Her reaction was anger, but only when she was seized, she truly realised her situation and looked for help in Stevens eyes, the look that made him fall in love with her.
In the final scene, Anne became reassuring and comforting to ease Steven’s torment. But did she initiate his dreams in the first place? She enters his final dream with the words, “Do you look-into everyone’s eyes?” as her calling card. But this could be read as subtext for, ‘here I am, I love you’.
Steven (James Eastwood)
Steven is the protagonist in The Witch’s Mask. He is also known as James Eastwood in his former life. He is in his late teens or early twenties, and works and lives in his family’s family hotel helping his father cook and prepare the meals for the guests. Steven’s private life and working life has become blurred as he works seven days a week from dawn to dusk. So, he has no life of his own.
The hotel is like a gilded cage, keeping him a prisoner in his work. Everyone around him is envious, thinking he is rich to live in such a large hotel, but he is paid less than the waitresses that only comes in to serve the meals. The hotel stands in its own grounds in beautiful surroundings, which added to Stevens isolation. He has had a sheltered life and doesn’t understand much beyond the hotel boundaries. He understands even less about girls. Educated in a private all boys school, and then followed his parent’s wishes, and qualified as a chef, which yet again, the course was only filled with male students. His mother even discriminated from girls staying alone at the hotel. So, it is safe to presume Steven never had a girlfriend. Steven’s lack of contact with girls made it difficult to approach our talk to girls. He wasn’t comfortable even talking to the waitress. Any conversation he had with her was shallow and only work related. When Anne came to him in the final dream, he felt that he knew her. He felt on over whelming feeling of comfort from her, and later could engage in a deep conversation. The conversations would become so deep and personal that he wouldn’t share them with any other living soul.
Steven’s other self is introduced to Anne as James Eastwood. Steven’s past self is only known to the audience as a voice over. The shoots are in first person single point of view as seen through Steven’s eyes. Going by the way he is addressed in his past life, he is a gentleman. We know it is the time of the English Civil War, and we know that he hasn’t joined ether side. Anne implies that he is young at the start of their conversation. He has a degree of adequate, but Anne pulls him out of his comfort zone. Never-before has he engaged in a conversation with a young lady in the middle of the woods without being properly introduced. Even though Anne hid behind her mask, he could sense behind the mask that she was someone special, and the voice could only belong to a beautiful girl. It was only when her face was finely revealed during her arrest, what was started earlier in the woods when he was alone with her, became fully realised with the looks in her eyes, that he was in love with her. The connection with her eyes seemed to touch his very soul. Present day Steven knew from the dream, that she was someone he had known, someone that he had always known.
All the dreams except the last one, end with Steven waking in a disturbed State. As a child, he woke from a nightmare, and as a young adult he woke in an emotional state. In his first dream of Anne, she is arrested on a charge of witch craft. His sleep was disturbed and he wakes in a tearful cold sweat. After waking after his first dream of Anne, he tells himself to, ‘pull himself together it is only a dream’. But through-out the day he still thinks of her. Through-out the day he talks to himself in his thoughts (Contemplative V.O.). Even his mother notices the change in his personality. He is in love for the first time in his life, and with a girl in a dream.
After the third dream, he was completely obsessed with the dreams, and research every fact in the dreams, which only reinforced his convictions. The night before the final dream, he asks himself many questions. The most pressing, where is she now. This question was soon answered in the final dream as if waiting to be asked. He dreams of Anne again, but not in the past, but in the present. He realises she is a ghost, and as if to put him out of his misery, she re-assures him she is alright.
Matthew Hopkins (Witch Finder)
Matthew Hopkins is one of the two characters in the film that actually-existed in history. He became known as the Witch Finder General, and was infamous for his witch hunts during the English Civil War between 1642 and 1646, especially during the period during the closure of the assizes. In the absents of Judicial courts he filled the vacuum of legal authority, and may have been responsible for condemning as many as two hundred accused witches. Matthew Hopkins legal authority came from his legal authority as a lawyer, and was also the son of a vicar. He had both the religious authority and legal authority to pursue witches as described by King James’s book, ‘The Hammer of The Witches.’ He was commissioned at a high fee by towns and villages, mostly in eastern England, to prosecute Witches. His fees were so high that he was known to wipe out an entire villager’s profit for that year.
Anne wouldn’t have known about his reputation, as far as she was concerned he was just a lawyer hired by the superstitious villagers with no grounds to convict her. In English law at the time, being a witch wasn’t a crime. Someone could only be convicted of witchcraft if they committed a crime using witchcraft, like murder. Then they will be charged with murder. Witchcraft was only a means to committing the crime. But sorts of trumped up crimes were manufactured to secure a conviction.
In the Witch’s Mask my character Matthew Hopkins plays the important role as a voice over in the start of the film. Through a mature distinctive voice, I hope to create a chill in the words, “Do you confess”. The shot shows a red-hot iron held in front of the camera. I need to engage the audience with these opening words.
Matthew Hopkins would have dressed like a gentleman. Like Anne he would have dressed all in black, warn a capotain with a buckle above the rim and warn high boots up to the thighs. My character of Matthew Hopkins is of a supercilious type personality who wouldn’t dirty his hands with menial tasks. He wouldn’t raise his voice or put himself out in anyway, he would let his subservients do his bidding, or his partner, John Stern. In the village of Ansley, Hopkins hired local farmers as his muscle men to arrest Anne. During the witch swimming trial to see if Anne floats or not, Hopkins used an old woman to throw Anne into the river. In the Witch’s mask the audience doesn’t see this preformed, as Steven wakes up out of the dream. Historically, Matthew Hopkins used two old women to conduct certain tasks that only they can accomplish. He wanted women to handle women. It wouldn’t be fitting as gentlemen for them to manhandle a woman. But, in secret John Stern tortured Anne. This could be the reason why Anne was unconscious during the swimming trial, to keep her silence.
John Stern came from the same parish as Matthew Hopkins. He was from the same social class and a businessman and would dress in the same way as Matthew Hopkins, all in black with a capotain and high boots. He was in collaboration with Mathew Hopkins as a witch finder, but Hopkins was the one in control because of his status as a lawyer. Stern secretly tortured accused witches to make them confess. The hidden reason why Anne was unconscious during the witch swimming trial, was to silence her from talking. They used the excuse, she had the evil eye, or she would curse the village.
The farmers in the arrest scene are Matthew Hopkins hired muscle. They are basically the peasant class. They are made up of low paid farm hands. When Matthews hires them, he empowers them. Anne treats them as lower class below her, and treats them with contempt. But the farmers have a workman’s pride mentality which comes to the surface with their empowerment. The farmers are also much older than Anne. This gives them a sense that Anne should respect them. But Anne doesn’t, when the first farmer points and accuses her being a witch, she shrugs it off and replies, “Go away, you’ve frightening the birds”. The farmer glares back at her in anger. She has insulted his pride for both his age and his empowerment. The farmers also have the self-appointed authority of self-righteousness, which is now empowered by Matthew Hopkins. The farmers run rough-shod over any sense of reason or restraint, and return they empower Matthew Hopkins.
The big influence of the villagers are the mature women of the Ansley. This scene comes after Anne’s arrest. They know about Steven’s (James Eastwood) infatuation with Anne. To them, Steven is one more young man bewitched by Anne. The women of the village are pious and self-righteous. They take pride in being church going law abiding citizens, and they have a sense of self-empowerment of their own importance. They have a heavy influence over the husbands and the elders of the village. It was the women’s influence that led to the appointment of Matthew Hopkins. The younger generation of the village need to be obedient to their will, and look down in subservience. The older women look down on Anne, and view her as a loose cannon. Her beauty turns the heads of their men folk, bewitching them, which is compounded with a lack of a husband. Anne is viewed with suspicion and superstition, because of the time she spends alone in the forest. They don’t understand Anne’s love of nature and her solitude. But Anne’s isolation is more to do with the attitudes of the villagers rather than a desire to be alone.
Steven argues with the older women as the villagers leave the village for Nottingham galleries of justice. Steven tries to appeal to them, but with no-avail.
There is in fact two mothers’. The mother of Steven as a young child, and the mother of Steven in his late teens. Steven’s mother is over protective. She is protective over Steven, Protective over the hotel and protective over the family business. She sent Steven to an all-boys private school. So, Steven had very little contact with the opposite sex. She didn’t even allow single girls to book into the hotel, because she worried they would bring back young men to the hotel, and all the problems that would arise. Steven’s mother was the first to notice a change in Steven after his first adult dream. But Steven wouldn’t confide in his mother in fear of upsetting her and angering his father, as-a-consequence.
Stevens father was very domineering and kept Steven working in the hotel from dusk to dawn, seven days a week, paying him even less than the employees. Steven helps his father with the cooking and is a qualified chef. But his father is autocratic, insisting everything is done his way. This makes a waste of Steven’s knowledge from college. This is source of great frustration for Steven. Not only is Steven’s father unapproachable, but his dominance makes his Steven’s mother unapproachable too. Steven does manage to grab some time for himself, just not a whole day.