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January 30, 2015 [The Revenant, The Witch]

The movies keep promising to transport us to other realms, the Dream Machine lifting us from our humdrums into 2D ecstasy. But what do we really want? Certainly not the time travel to Puritan New England or the sharp wet cold of the early-1800s Dakotas—not into the woods there, the lairs and hovels of bears and witches, the place where moral codes and iron wills for vengeance and survival collide in chilly combat, as fierce and close as nose-to-nose, breaths meeting in steam between bared teeth and grimace. The family in The Witch follows the father to the edge of the woods—I could almost hear Young Goodman Brown speaking at first calmly with the familiar stranger—then deeper to the Snow White/Rose Red hut, where the proffered Apple vomits out its promise of freedom—purchased far from any open space except the air, a floating liberation from stern despair and love. The trappers and seekers in the Dakotas also disappear within the tree-line—and find their own dark magic, the body abject

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