Welcome to the 17th Century

by Craig B.

Cinematically, Thanksgiving has gotten the short end of the stick. The time-honored tradition of sitting down for a holiday flick-fest starts right before Halloween and doesn’t slow down until late December. All the other stops on the holiday road get THEIR movies. So where’s Thanksgiving’s rich movie tradition? It’s a fine, unassuming holiday. It has all of the culinary trimmings without any of the mass marketing neuroses. Sure, there’s squabbling about whether the yams should be served with or without marshmallows, or whether the cranberries should be homemade or canned. Both crucial topics, to be sure, but hardly deal-breakers. Those petty family squabbles are counter-balanced by food, football, and food. If you’re feeling particularly audacious, you can watch the parade and make fun of these people.

Anyway, I’m done scouring the internet for great Thanksgiving movies. Outside of The Peanuts, they don’t exist. Instead, I’ve assembled a cornucopia of films that take place in the 17th century, the same century that saw the first Thanksgiving. So, while you’re waiting for the tryptophan to kick in and interrupt your uncle’s stirring soliloquy on the 2nd Amendment, why not dine on these silver screen delicacies?

The New World

Terence Malick’s beautifully shot period piece follows the semi-mythological life of Pocahontas as she befriends Jamestown pioneer John Smith and, later, marries John Rolfe and moves to England. Like most early Malick films, The New World is a patient, measured meditation that relies more on aesthetics than dialogue. If you like stories where the scenery takes center stage, you’ll be absorbed by this movie.

The Witch

Writer/Director Robert Eggers’ first feature-length film is a chillingly atmospheric horror story about a New England family in the 1630’s who begin to suspect their daughter of witchcraft when a series of ruinous events befalls their farm. Eggers relied heavily on historic witch trials and accounts for his script, and his insistence on the use of natural light and contemporaneous dialect only adds to the movie’s authenticity.

The Crucible

Playwright Arthur Miller originally penned The Crucible in 1953 as a polemic against the blacklisting tactics that were rife during the McCarthy Era. The play takes a sober look at the 1692 Salem Witch Trials, in which a group of girls’ false accusations led to the death of 19 Massachusetts citizens. This film is largely faithful to its source material. Daniel Day-Lewis shines as John Proctor, a farmer who becomes tragically embroiled in the devilish shenanigans.

I hope you enjoy these titles! Be sure to comment with any additional titles you discover so I can add them to my list.

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4 responses to “Welcome to the 17th Century”

  1. Gloria says:

    You must add “The Last of the Mohicans” 1992 with Day-Lewis & Russell Means!

    • Craig Burgess says:

      I would dearly have loved to add “The Last of the Mohicans” to the list, but it unfortunately takes place in the wrong century! Plus, we can’t have Daniel Day-Lewis hogging ALL the accolades, now can we?

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