Coven of Sisters is a 2021 Netflix Spanish film. It is directed by Argentian filmmaker Pablo Agüro. The screenplay is penned by Agüro and Katell Guillou. The film follows a group of 5 young women apprehended by Catholic judges for being witches. It is set in 1609 Basque country and tells a historical-fiction about the treatment of women during the Spanish Inquisition. The film is a chilling and horrifying tale of patriarchal oppression and inhumane treatment of women during those times. Inspired by the witch trials, it shows how easy it was for the orthodox dogma to lead to witch trials.
Coven of Sisters is an atmospherical horror. It shows the plight of unsuspecting and innocent women for being themselves. With a more contemporary lens, the film is a competently made and shot period horror. The film shows the low points that humanity reached during the witch trials. It also dabbles with commenting on the Spanish Inquisition how the dialects were suppressed. The cinematography is gorgeous here, beautifully complemented by the music score. Acting is pretty commendable too, albeit seeming a bit overdone at times.
The film starts with the Inquisition cleric Rostegui and his consejero Salazar conversing in front of a woman burning at stake. These two are judges that the king has ordained to purge the witches. Rostegui and Salazar are talking to each other about the witches’ burning. One of them is skeptical of the satanic ritual being real while the other is obsessed with the Witches’ Sabbath. Rostegui is the man who is obsessed with the Witches’ Sabbath and wants to witness it with his own eyes. In his obsession, he has set about 77 women to burn at the stake, for being witches. And the reasoning — well, there’s not many places for that among dogma and superstition. The judges then arrive at the northern province of the Basque. This is where the main story begins.
There, they take shelter in the local Catholic church. Rostegui and his delegation of guards and priests go into the village when all the men have gone off sailing. The women are alone and defenseless — perfect fodder for the patriarchal orthodoxy. They arrest five young women who are all close friends and weavers. The women are amused at first and decide to play along. But soon enough they are subjected to the dark and stupid side of orthodox dogma. They are stripped down and thrown into prison cells. Not knowing at first, why it’s happening to them, the women eventually come up with a plan. Ana learns of Rostegui’s repressed sexual desires and his obsession with witnessing Witches’ Sabbath. She comes up with a plan to stroke his desires more and tells him what he wants to hear.
Coven of Sisters Ending Explained
Convinced of Ana’s stories of them being witches and the ritual, Rostegui has faith in the Sabbath. The sisters perform a made-up ritual that’s supposed to be the Witches’ Sabbath. But in the final scene, the girls are trying to escape. They are still chained with each other while trying to escape the men. They reach a cliff by the seashore, which has been depicted in the film at different points throughout. They’re cornered by the guards and judges. During their “ritual”, Ana had convinced Rostegui of her ability to fly. And it was pretty easy for him to help down, having an already existing obsession with witches’ existence and Sabbath.
At the climax of the film, Ana and the sisters are about to jump off the cliff and into the sea. The camera cuts quickly to Rostegui, who is all starry-eyed, totally drowned in his delusions. Out of his head, he declares that the “witches” have flown away. The camera then cuts to the side of the cliff where the girls were standing. There’s nobody there now. While the obvious follow-up would be that they have jumped off into the sea, it seems ambiguous. But it really shouldn’t be. I think the ambiguity is there.
To think it’s ambiguous and that it has some supernatural element would be to lend credence to the disgusting orthodox dogma of the judges. There’s really no reason for the ending to be ambiguous and teasing towards something more supernatural. The film showcases how ludicrous it was that innocent and especially powerful and confident women were branded as witches. When the message is pretty evident, an ambiguous ending would be of disservice to that message.
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