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Witchery on the silver screen


New additions to the library’s Witchcraft Collection will make their public debut in the Straight next week: historical witchcraft movie posters from 1937 to 2013.

In conjunction with Cornell Cinema, the library’s Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections will display a selection of the newly acquired posters in Willard Straight Hall, before screenings of “War Witch” and “I Married a Witch” Thursday, Sept. 26.

“Witchcraft is not only a minor or marginal topic for dodgy B-movies, cheap comedies, or erotic horror, after all – even though these subgenres are well-represented,” says curator Laurent Ferri.

The new collection encompasses more than 70 original movie posters and includes films from well-known directors including René Clair, Richard Quine, Victor Fleming, Luchino Visconti, Roman Polanski, William Friedkin, Dario Argento, Hayao Miyazaki, Marco Bellochio, and Sam Raimi.

The library’s Witchcraft Collection has expanded in recent years. It contains many 16th-, 17th- amd -18th-century witchcraft trial records; all the major treatises of demonology since the “Malleus Maleficarum” (1487); pamphlets related to witchcraft and witch-hunts; materials on Wicca and neo-witchcraft in the United States; and artists' books inspired by magic and the supernatural.

In the future, it may contain more items from non-Western traditions, such as Haitian voodoo, Mexican Santería or witch-doctors and “war witches” in Africa.