Hunting for witches and heretics: 20 films about the Inquisition

Religious fanaticism has lit thousands of fires across Europe, extinguishing the sparks of free thought and the desire to argue with official doctrines. When the representatives of the Holy Inquisition were given the right to catch apostates of the faith, many heretics and simply slandered people turned to ashes or died from torture. Films from our selection about the Inquisition will immerse you in the past, where obscurantism, superstition and false beliefs broke the fate of those who fell under the hot hand of church ministers vested with power.

Temptation (2021)

A provocative and bold film, banned for distribution in a number of countries, takes the viewer to Italy in the 17th century. Benedetta, who was credited with mystical abilities from birth, enters the monastery at the age of nine. There she devotes herself completely to religion, using her gift to communicate with the Almighty. Later, a new novice Bartholomew arrives at the abbey, having escaped from her cruel father. Girls are seized by sexual lust and erotic fantasies – an exceptionally grave sin for that time.

What do you think, is it worth filming a sequel, and what should be in it?

Original title:
Wicked

Genre:
Fantasy, drama, melodrama

Actors:
Andrew Rogers, Liam Hall, Anna Elizabeth…

Country:
USA

Rating:
IMDb – 5.5


Akelarre (2020)

Atmospheric and serious drama – a feature film about the Inquisitor Rostegui, who in 1609 combs the countryside of the Basque Country in search of witches. At this time, several girls arrange dances in the forest. They have fun and sing about love, while the rest of the locals are engaged in sea fishing. Of course, this behavior attracts the attention of the clergyman and he takes six women into custody. Ahead of them are interrogations and torture. The only way to survive is to go to the trick, confessing to the organization of the coven-akelarr and lure the inquisitor there.

Original title:
Akelarre

Genre:
Drama, thriller

Actors:
Amaia Aberasturi, Alex Brendemühl, Daniel Fanego…

Country:
Spain, France, Argentina

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.2, IMDb – 6.4

Age restrictions:
16+


The Name of the Rose (TV series 2018 – 2019)

The series is a film adaptation of the novel by the writer and philosopher Umberto Eco, filmed in the detective genre. In the winter of 1927, monk Wilhelm of Baskerville travels with a student. The destination where travelers are sent is a Benedictine monastery in northern Italy. There they are going to take part in a debate on church issues, but a series of sudden and mysterious deaths take place within the walls of the monastery. Wilhelm starts his own investigation .

Original title:  
The Name of the Rose

Genre:
Thriller, drama, detective

Actors:  
John Turturro, Rupert Everett, Damian Hardung…

Country:  
Italy, Germany

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 6.8, IMDb – 7.0

Age restrictions:  
18+


Plague (TV series, 2018 – 2019)

Among foreign historical films about the Inquisition, the Spanish detective series impresses with its realistic visuals . In the midst of an epidemic of bubonic plague in the city of Seville, several representatives of the nobility are brutally murdered. The authorities instruct the typographer and former warrior convicted by the court of the Inquisition, Mateo, to unravel this case. The investigation leads him to very scary and unexpected results.

Original title:  
La peste

Genre:  
Action, thriller, drama, crime, detective

Actors:  
Pablo Molinero, Patricia Lopez, Sergio Castellanos…

Country:  
Spain

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 7.0, IMDb – 7.3

Age restrictions:  
16+


Storm: Letters of Fire (2017)

The adventure family film takes place in the 16th century. The protagonist’s father, the printer Klaas Wooten, plays with fire, publishing forbidden texts. The story begins when a man is arrested and 10-year-old Storm is in possession of the only copy of Martin Luther’s sermon. And although it is difficult for a child to understand the essence of what is happening, he realizes that he owns something very important and now his life is in danger.

Original Title :
Storm: Letters van Vuur

Genre:
Drama, Adventure, Family

Actors:
Davy Gomez, Yuna de Löw, Yorick van Wageningen…

Country:
Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg

Rating:
IMDb – 6.1


Devil’s Bride (2016)

The film, based on real events , tells about the Inquisition in the Middle Ages and the beginning of the witch hunt. 16-year-old Anna dreams of love. And the object of romantic feelings is the husband of her friend, who reciprocates the girl. However, happiness does not last long – soon Elias returns to his lawful wife. In a fit of anger and envy, Anna denounces her rival, accusing her of witchcraft.

Original title:
Tulen morsian

Genre:
Drama, history

Actors:
Tuuliya Eloranta, Magnus Krepper, Elin Petersdottir…

Country:
Finland, Sweden, Norway, Latvia, Germany

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 5.9, IMDb – 6.0


Inquisition (TV series 2012)

The year is 1370 – the time of the Inquisition in France. A rivalry develops between the two men. One of them is Inquisitor Barnal in the service of Pope Avignon, convinced that the plague is a divine punishment. The other, David, is an idealist doctor , confident that the disease can be fought and there is nothing mystical about it. At the same time, brutal murders of clergy begin in the city.

Original title:  
Inquisitio

Genre:  
History

Actors:  
Aurelien Vic, Vladislav Galar, Anneliese Esme…

Country:  
France

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 7.5, IMDb – 6.8

Age restrictions:  
16+


Monk (2011)

The film adaptation of the famous gothic novel by Matthew Lewis in the genre of dramatic thriller will continue the list of the best films about the Holy Inquisition. The plot tells about the fate of Brother Ambrosio, a Spanish monk of the 18th century. Left after birth at the door of the monastery, the foundling later becomes a preacher, known for his zeal and freedom from all temptations. However, the sudden appearance of a new novice turns all his beliefs upside down and puts him on the path of death.

Original title:
Le moine

Genre:
Thriller, drama

Actors:
Vincent Cassel, Deborah François, Josephine Zhapi …

Country:
Spain, France

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.1, IMDb – 5.8


Hammer of Witches (2011)

A Bolivian horror film introduces the viewer to two women convicted of witchcraft. Maria Francisca is a wealthy heiress and her friend Mariana is a widow with very dangerous views on the Catholic Church. The heroines sent to trial will face the senseless and sadistic cruelty that the Inquisition became famous for in their desire to get a confession from those accused on suspicion of contacts with evil spirits by any means.

Original title:
Maleficarum

Genre:
Horror, drama, history

Actors:
Amy Hesketh, Mila Gioia, Roberto Lopez…

Country:
Bolivia

Rating:
IMDb – 4.6

Age limit:
18+


Black Death (2010)

The action of the harsh atmospheric film about the medieval Inquisition takes place in 1348, the time when England was fighting the bubonic plague. The young monk Osmund leads the knights to a remote settlement, where, according to rumors, a necromancer resurrects people who have died from the plague. As they approach the quiet secluded village of heretics, the squad approaches discoveries that promise the knights a meeting with real horror.

Original title:  
Black Death

Genre:  
Detective, thriller

Actors:  
Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Carice van Houten …

Country:  
Germany, UK

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 6.4

Age restrictions:  
18+


Witch Time (2010)

Two knights – Bayman and Felson – return to Europe in the midst of the Black Death. In a plague city, a dying cardinal asks men to take a young girl to a distant monastery. Anna is suspected of witchcraft, and that she brought death to the whole village. And what awaits travelers on the road and whether the girl is actually a witch, you will find out by watching this spectacular film in the genre of mystical fantasy.

Original title:  
Season of the Witch

Genre:
Fantasy, Action, Adventure

Actors:  
Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Stephen Campbell Moore…

Country:  
USA

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 6.2, IMDb – 5.4

Age Limits
16+


Goya’s Ghosts (2006)

An unusual film about the times of the Inquisition, when innocent victims were tortured and executed, received a lot of positive feedback from viewers. The events of the popular historical drama revolve around the artist Francisco Goya. His muse – a young, beautiful and open to the world girl Iness – becomes a victim of denunciations. Under terrible torture, she loses her physical and mental health. At this time, Francisco is trying to get Iness out of the dungeon, hoping for the help of the priest Lorenzo.

Original title:  
Goya’s Ghosts

Genre:  
Drama, biography

Actors:  
Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård…

Country:  
USA, Spain

Rating:  
Myreleasedate – 7.5, IMDb – 6.9

Age restrictions:  
16+


Last Judgment (2006)

The film invites the viewer to a leisurely journey through the Spanish province in times of religious fanaticism. Ruy De Mendez, the newly appointed sheriff, is investigating the murders of nobles. Despite the attempts of the governor and the head of the Inquisition to stop the investigation, Mendez continues to search for the truth. As the officer of the law delves into the circumstances of the case, he begins to reveal secrets that he should not know, endangering himself and his family.

Original title:
Day of Wrath

Genre:
Action, thriller, drama

Actors:
Christopher Lambert, Blanca Marsillach, Brian Blessed …

Country:
UK, Hungary

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.3, IMDb – 5.5

Age restrictions:
18+


Hangman (2005)

The story of the friendship of two men during the European Inquisition of the 16th century. Martin and Georg become close as children, but as adults they go their separate ways. Georg decides to join the church, and Martin, who has returned from the war, becomes an executioner for the sake of his family. By coincidence, the executioner and his family are victims of religious fanatics who want to kill them in the name of God. Will both friends remain true to themselves and their beliefs in such a dramatic situation?

Original title:
The Headsman

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Steven Berkoff, Virag Baran, Nikolai Coster-Waldau …

Country:
UK, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 6.1

Age restrictions:
16+


Heretic (2004)

The film tells about the astrologer and physician Cesko Dascoli, who lived in the Middle Ages. The man had a phenomenal desire for knowledge for that time – he studied theology, philosophy, mathematics , medicine and poetry. But the Italian professor went down in history because of the tragic ending of his life. Accused of heresy, Sesco was arrested by the inquisitors and became the first scientist to be burned at the stake.

Original title:
L’ Eretico

Genre:
Drama, biography, history

Actors:
Tobias Moretti, Remo Girone, Robert Stadlober…

Country:
Italy

Age limit:
16+


Secret passage (2004)

The life of the sisters Clara and Isabelle collapses with the advent of the Inquisition. The year is 1492, and the Spanish government has decreed that all Jews must either convert to Catholicism or face trial as heretics. The girls flee to Holland, where Isabelle assumes the duties of the head of the family, and Clara falls in love with a nobleman and is going to convert to Christianity in order to marry him.

Original title:
Secret Passage

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
John Turturro, Katherine Borowitz, Tara Fitzgerald…

Country:
Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.1, IMDb – 6.2

Age Limits :
12+


God Warrior (1999)

The plot of the film takes place in Iceland in the 15th century. A young priest arrives in a rural village to carry the word of God. In everything that happens around him, he sees satanic machinations and firmly holds the peasants in his hands. Acquaintance with a young girl turns an already fanatical man into a real madman. Confident that carnal desires arise from sorcery, he embarks on a crusade against the innocent villagers.

Original title:
Myrkrahöfðinginn

Genre:
Drama

Actors:
Hilmir Snair Gvyudnason, Sarah Dogg Asgersdottir, Alexandra Rapaport…

Country:
Iceland

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 5.8

Age limit:
16+


Honest Courtesan (1998)

A costumed film about the Inquisition persecuting witches and all women who were denounced in the Middle Ages, based on the biography of the famous courtesan. In Venice in 1585 lives a beautiful girl Veronica. Poverty and the inability to be with her beloved pushes her to a desperate step – she decides to become a courtesan . Having mastered the art of seduction, the young beauty finds patrons among wealthy and noble men, moving in the highest circles. But one day the heroine falls into the hands of the inquisitors on charges of witchcraft.

Original title:
Dangerous Beauty

Genre:
Drama, melodrama, biography

Actors:
Catherine McCormack, Rufus Sewell, Oliver Platt…

Country:
USA

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.8, IMDb – 7.2

Age restrictions:
16+


Inquisitor: The Well and the Pendulum (1991)

The filmmakers, inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe, brought to the screen medieval torture, horror and lawlessness of that time. A young family of wealthy peasants, Maria and Antonio, fall under the sight of the sinister Torquemada, a sadist who sows chaos and horror under the guise of the word of God. Dressed in a cassock, the lover of sentencing the innocent to death intends to obtain a confession of witchcraft from Mary as well. However, her husband decides to enter the torture house in order to save his beloved.

Original title:
The Pit and the Pendulum

Genre:
Horror, melodrama

Actors:
Lance Henriksen, Stephen Lee, William Norris …

Country:
USA, Italy

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 6.2, IMDb – 6.0

Age restrictions:
16+


The Name of the Rose (1986)

The hero of the film – the monk William of Baskerville – in 1327 goes to a Benedictine monastery in the company of a novice. Against the background of the country’s economic crisis, poverty and conflict, the house of God looks majestic and rich. But the main value of the monastery is the secret library. It is she who will become the scene of a crime, the first in a series of mysterious deaths of monks. Confident that the sinister events are somehow connected with the artifact – the manuscript of Aristotle, William begins an investigation.

Original title:
Der Name der Rose

Genre:
Thriller, drama, crime

Actors:
Sean Connery, Christian Slater, Helmut Kvaltinger …

Country:
Germany (Germany), Italy, France

Rating:
Myreleasedate – 7.6, IMDb – 7.7

Age restrictions:
16+


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Jared Lambert/ author of the article

I’ve been writing about movies, TV shows and anime for over 3 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

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