Often seen as an allegory on the Nazi occupation of Denmark, this austere and very sombre account of the persecution of witches in 17th century Denmark is arguably Dreyer's most pessimistic film. When a pious elderly parson sends an old woman to the stake, she curses him. His young wife (the daughter of a woman suspected of witchcraft) falls in love with her stepson; the affair induces the parson's death. Is the wife, then, herself a witch? Dreyer remains wisely ambivalent, preferring instead to focus on the powerful, earthly emotions of fear and love: the grim, grey confession chambers - location of perhaps the most discreet yet horrific torture scenes in cinema - embody the former, rippling streams and sun-dappled meadows the latter. Almost paradoxically, Dreyer evokes the soul through the physical world; the result is a masterpiece, its slow, measured pace and stark visuals achieving an almost unbearable emotional intensity.