Sorceress (1987) and The Holy Greyhound: Saint Veneration in Twentieth century films. Modern day cinema has shown increased affinity towards a plotline undermined by saint veneration. A movie such as Sorceress (1987) is an example that has drawn inspiration from the idea of saint veneration to make the script…
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Understanding the social framework of a bygone era and portraying it effectively to bring out the crude reasons for such social structure is important to ensure that the move can connect to its audience who are interested in seeing a cinematic portrayal of the lives of people in that era. The ‘Sorceress’ is a movie based on the book The Holy Greyhound: Guinefort, Healer of Children since the Thirteenth Century that centers on the legend of the folktale of a dog named, Guinefort. The story says that somewhere near the city of Lyons, there was an estate in a village named Neuville owned by Lord of Villars. The lord of the castle lived with his wife and a baby along with Guinefort his trusted dog. One day the knight went on hunting and left Guinefort to the protection of the child. While everyone was away a serpent entered the house and moved towards striking the baby. The faithful dog seeing this chased the serpent and attacked it. Although the dog was also severely attacked by the huge serpent, it finally managed to kill the snake and threw it away from the baby’s cradle. The knight on returning saw the area in disarray due to the fight, the cradle on the floor and the dog’s mouth smeared with blood. Imagining the dog had made a meal of his child; the knight drew out his sword and killed the dog. The dog’s last yelp is seen to have stirred the child and it starts crying. The knight sees the child unhurt under the cradle and also sees the snake killed by Guinefort. The knight realizes what a big mistake he had made by killing the trusted dog that saved his child and is overcome with remorse. The knight along with his family then put the dog through a well. They plant a grove of trees over it and built a memorial in the name of Guinefort in its tribute. As the story of the dog started spreading the local people started paying homage to the brave dog and many miracles were reported to have occurred at the shrine. Guinefort started getting recognized throughout the region as the protector of infants and people started referring to him as Saint Guinefort. (Schmitt, 288) This was how the legend of Saint Guinefort was created. The story portrays two varying emotions of the knight, one when he feels rage thinking that the dog had eaten his baby and secondly, remorse, understanding that he had killed the creature that had protected his baby from harm in his absence. His remorse is shown to be so great that he never smiles again. The story also shows how the dog Guinefort went on to become Saint Guinefort through the psychology of the people. What started off as worshipping turned to blind faith and resulted in the birth of the legend of Saint Guinefort. People started engaging in activities that grew out of imagination that effectiveness that saw people doing unnatural and harmful things in the name of protecting their children. Later when a monk arrives in the village and is made aware of the legend of the saint, he is eager to find out more about him. To his surprise when he finds out that the saint is actually a dog, he gets infuriated and starts preaching against its veneration. He arranged for the dead dog to be unearthed, cut down and burnt the blessed wood accompanied by the other remnants of the dog. He even made sure to pass an edict barring anyone to go to that place or else they would be liable for prosecution and their belongings seized. This again
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