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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by Malcolm Leigh
UK 1970

 

X-rated upon its original release Legend of the Witches (1970) is a documentary which looks in detail at previously hidden magic rites and rituals. Sharing the secrets of initiation into a coven, divination through animal sacrifice, ritual scrying, the casting of a 'death spell', and the chilling intimacy of a Black Mass. It also explores Britain's hidden pagan heritage and its continued influence on our lives today.

***

Pagans - witches, if you will - believe that the world was formed when the goddess Diana was born, and seeking to find companionship other than her own reflection seen on the surface of water, her counterpart Lucifer was created to become her partner in the sky, thus were the moon and sun brought into being. There are still witches practicing their ceremonies to this day, and should you be invited to join a coven this documentary will detail what you would expect from an initiation ceremony as we watch this new convert in the woods, naked as the day he was born with other similarly nude participants, set on following the arcane rules of worship that have been passed down from ancient times...

Excerpt from TheSpinningImage located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: February 1970

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Review: BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

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Also available on DVD:

 

Distribution BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:25:20.208        
Video

1.33:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 45,015,269,161 bytes

Feature: 20,331,528,192 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

Subtitles English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
BFI

 

1.33:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 45,015,269,161 bytes

Feature: 20,331,528,192 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

Newly recorded audio commentary on Secret Rites by BFI Flipside founders Vic Pratt and William (46:52)
The Witch's Fiddle (1924, 7:03): a silent film version of the eerie folk tale
Out of Step: Witchcraft (1957, 13:28): investigative journalist Dan Farson interviews the 'father of Wicca' Gerald Gardner in this rare TV documentary
Judgement of Albion (1968, 26:20): bold, Blakeeian imagery populates this ode to resistance by the writer of Blood on Satan's Claw
Getting It Straight in Notting Hill Gate (1970, 24:56): spaced-out sitars, Blue Beat 45s and the prog-rock grooves of Quintessence soundtrack this up-close flashback to Notting Hill Gate in 1970
Image gallery: rare memorabilia and newspaper cutings relating to the films, salvaged from the spooky '70s (21:13)
Newly commissioned sleeve artwork by renowned illustrator Graham Humphreys
**FIRST PRESSING ONLY** fully illustrated booklet with essays by Christina Oakley Hrrington, publisher and expert on the occult Mark Pilkington, film lecturer Dr Adrian Smith, writer Rob Young and authors of The Bodies Beneath, Vic Pratt and William Fowler

DVD


Blu-ray Release Date:
October 14th, 2019
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 10

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: BFI Blu-ray (October 2019): BFI have transferred Malcolm Leigh's 1970 documentary Legend of the Witches to Blu-ray. It deals with the history of witchcraft in Britain. I found it very interesting. The image quality in 1080P is strong relying on the source and has some impressively crisp shots of the outdoors and no real blemishes. It is in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio and the HD presentation was fairly consistent and strong.

On their Blu-ray, BFI use a linear PCM 2.0 channel mono track (24-bit) in the original English language. It is mostly audible narration from Guy Standeven with some singing/chanting occasionally in the background. BFI offer optional English subtitles on their Region 'B' Blu-ray.

The BFI Blu-ray have quite a few extras which include the 3/4 hour Secret Rites by Derek Ford (also in 1080P/ LPCM). Described as "Part Mondo movie, part countercultural artefact Secret Rites (1971) this strange mid-length 'documentary' by exploitation director Derek Ford lifts the lid on witchcraft in 1970s Notting Hill. Mystery band The Spindle provide the groovy, psychedelic sounds while tentative occult enthusiast Penny and a serious-sounding narrator introduce the viewer to three ritual acts" - it has an optional audio commentary by Vic Pratt and William Fowler. The Witch's Fiddle is a silent film (1924) version of the eerie folk tale and runs 7-minutes. It is described as "possibly the first student film ever made, this tale of a magical instrument was shot by the newly formed Cambridge University Kinema Club. While the film is a daft comedy, its creators went on to careers straight from a thriller: director Peter Le Neve Foster spent years filming behind the Iron Curtain, his assistant director Cedric Belfrage was a suspected Russian spy, and Pembroke Stephens - the lovesick youth - was killed in 1937 while reporting on the Japanese invasion of China." Out of Step: Witchcraft has investigative journalist Dan Farson interviewing the 'father of Wicca' Gerald Gardner in this rare 1957 TV documentary running almost 14-minutes. Judgement of Albion shows bold, Blakeeian imagery populating an ode to resistance by the writer of Blood on Satan's Claw. It is from 1968 and runs about 25-minutes. Included is the 1970 Getting It Straight in Notting Hill Gate - with spaced-out sitars, Blue Beat 45s and the prog-rock grooves of Quintessence soundtrack this up-close flashback to Notting Hill Gate in 1970 - running 25-minutes. There is also a lengthy image gallery of rare memorabilia and newspaper clippings relating to the films, salvaged from the spooky '70s and the first pressing package (with newly commissioned sleeve artwork by renowned illustrator Graham Humphreys) includes a fully illustrated booklet with essays by Christina Oakley Harington, publisher and expert on the occult Mark Pilkington, film lecturer Dr Adrian Smith, writer Rob Young and authors of The Bodies Beneath, Vic Pratt and William Fowler. There is also a second disc DVD in the package.

I found Legend of the Witches pretty interesting uncovering some of the weirdness (naked people marching around a campfire in the forest) around the topic and those who delve into, and respect, its historical roots. There is value with this Blu-ray for the feature and plentiful extras but it might help if you had some interest in 'witches' in the first place.

Gary Tooze

 


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Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Also available on DVD:

 

Distribution BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray


 


 

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