dimanche 8 janvier 2017


Salem the series :
Picture 1 : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem_(season_1)#/media/File:Salem_Season_1_Poster.jpg
Picture 2 : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem_(season_2)#/media/File:Salem_Season_2_Poster.jpg
Picture 3 : http://vignette1.wikia.nocookie.net/the-salem/images/0/00/Salem_Season_3_official_poster.jpg/revision/latest/scale-to-width-down/250?cb=20161008000334

The Historical Context:
http://www.history.com/topics/salem-witch-trialsThe characters:

The Characters:

Pictures: http://screencapped.net

Puritanism & Salem:

Women in the 17th century in Salem:

Help for the article + picture http://people.ucls.uchicago.edu/~snekros/Salem%20Journal/Legal/DavidR.html
Picture : https://pmcdeadline2.files.wordpress.com/2015/02/salem-key-art-3.jpg?w=556&h=830

The Opening Credits:
WGN America https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycGClZhNRjw

The punishments in Salem and in the TV Series Salem:

The Set and Wardrobe:
Dorothy A. Mays. Early America: Struggle, Survival and Freedom in a New World. 2004.

The Impact of the Series:
Picture 1: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/69/The_logo_for_TV_series_Salem.png
Picture 2: http://alanhessphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/SDCC_2014_Fox_FX-137.jpg
Reception of the show: http://www.metacritic.com/tv/salem/critic-reviews and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem_(TV_series)#Critical_reception
Nominations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salem_(TV_series)#Awards_and_nominations
Shop: http://salem.wgnamerica.com/shop/

The Rise of the Supernatural and the Use of Witchcraft:

Even the Best Things know an End:
Picture 1: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B_lrJ_FUYAAx9qT.jpg
Picture 2: http://www.tvgoodness.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/CAST_SALEM_S2-Gallery.jpg

Even the Best Things know an End

The main actors of Salem                                    The main characters of Salem

        If we had to describe Salem in a few words here are the ones we chose and why: 

S for successful, because Salem is a worldwide series broadcasted both in North America and in Europe. Indeed the channels WGN American (USA) and Space (Canada) premiered the series on April 2014; and more recently on June 2016, Belgium did the same thing and so France on Netflix since September 2016. It was so successful that a community have emerged for fans who would like to share their opinion.

A for ambitious because the producers Brannon Braga and Adam Simon managed well to mix history and fiction, even if it was not the main purpose of the series. However, they deserve the success of Salem because since 2014 many people were attracted to that show, either were they history lovers of 17th century for instance or those keen on discovering a period with historical events. They knew how to reconcile the real and the fantasy. 

L for labyrinthine because we will not deny it, Salem is a complex series. The topic of the Witch Trials in 17th century in Massachusetts is very interesting but difficult at the same time since they took place at a time when the mentalities were different today's. In ‘Ask Salem’, some actors admitted they made researches about their characters in order to know how to act properly. This is remarkable because they are very involved and we can feel that they have been touched by their role.

E for entertaining because what is interesting in Salem is that you can learn real facts through the episodes while enjoying watching a fictional show at the same time. The techniques used by the producers work perfectly, the viewers want to keep watching the episodes and this will gets bigger as the series goes on.

M for magic, the main theme in the series. As we explained in an article about witchcraft, this practice includes important elements such as power, spells and rituals which are omnipresent in the series since the producers have decided to create a show using the perspective that witches do exist.

Thank you for reading us, we were happy to write all of these articles and to share with you different aspects of the great series Salem. We hope we made you want to watch the tv series, actually we invite you to, because it is worth it.

Inès, Nina, Morgane.

The Rise of the Supernatural and the Use of Witchraft

The great question now is to wonder why Adam Simon and Brannon Braga have chosen to represent this historical event by using the fantastic and supernatural genre.

We can say that the supernatural has been in the heart of most of the cinematographic productions way after the creation of this genre also called “gothic fiction” in the 18th century with books like Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Since the publication of the Twilight saga in books and then on screen, a boom of witchcraft, ghosts and vampires has been observed inside pop culture. Vampires have stayed a long time the perfect anti heroes and representatives of the supernatural genre and have attracted more than a billion persons all over the globe, but witches have never been that coveted since the creation of Salem. Witches have been known through many  series good ones, by the way such as Charmed, Witches of East End, the Vampire Diaries (with the character of Bonnie) and of course the very famous Harry Potter saga. What is different with Salem is that we deal with a historical event mixed with fiction and with the supernatural which tends to be more faithful to some social issues. What is worth noticing is that Simon and Braga have chosen this type of event to fix with the trend of the moment while talking about real facts. Indeed, Salem is one of the only TV series belonging to this genre talking about things that really happened in the past.

Interview of the creators of Salem
Brannon Braga and Adam Simon 
about the choice of the subject in season 1 and 2

Magic is an important theme of the series. Indeed, we all know about the Witch Trials but do we really know about the kind of magic used by the witches at that time? The answer is obviously no because we are torn up between popular believes and slight historical indications. According to the Oxford dictionary, witchcraft means the practice of magic, especially black magic; the use of spells. Producers have played with this kind of hesitation and solved it by using a specific kind of witchcraft. Indeed, throughout the episodes, we see the witches stewing strange substances in cauldrons and acting strange with animals. Animals such as frogs and spiders have a huge role in the witchcraft of the main characters of the series but anything on the historical records testify about it. So they have fallen for the popular believes about witchcraft in Salem but they might have forgotten the broom! They obviously have taken things into consideration to adapt history, popular believes and fiction to get the audience's attention and to avoid conflicts with historians. 

Salem represents the perfect mixture between the supernatural and the historical genre. Indeed, it gives a new vision of the Witch Trials, and the blend of the supernatural and history allows the viewers to learn more about main issues of that period. This can produce a kind of curiosity among the audience, pushing them to be interested in these events and then to compare, as we did through our watchings and researches, the fiction from reality. The advantage with tackling this kind of story is that the end is already known by the viewer, but it is the voice of the producer to fix to reality or not, and we think this creates a lot of suspense for the viewer.

The history of witchcraft was actually real. Contrary to vampires and werewolves, witches  have existed, they were real human beings which turns the TV series in a sort of historical documentary even though the producers say that they do not take any responsibility for telling the story as it was because they consider it to be the job of historians. They have seen in this historical event a great chance to use supernatural and to fix with the rising trend of this style. 

In the 17th Century from Head to Toe: the Wardrobe

A common vision of the 17th century fashion is that Puritans used to wear black and white all the time. This is not entirely true.

Indeed, black dye was very expensive, that is the reason why people would wear black on sundays or court clothing. Yet, many paintings represent women and men wearing black and white which mostly explains why most people think these colors were very common to wear. In fact, people would wear black and white when they knew a painting would be made of them so as to look the best way they could and in the richest way. At the time, people would dress to impress. The way people dressed indicated their social status. Gigantic lace collars were very fashionable at the time but expensive as well.

Portrait of Jerónimo de Cevallos by El Greco, 1613

Portrait of a woman by Frans Hals, 1622

Lady in Black by Bartholomeus van der Helst, 1640

Portrait of a young woman by Gerard ter Borch, 1663

But in everyday's life, people would tend to wear colors, even the elite. 
Women would wear expensive jewellery and ornated dresses. That is the case of the women with a high status in Salem, the TV series. 
 In Women in Early America: Struggle, Survival and Freedom in a New World published in 2004, Dorothy A. Mays gives interesting details about the fashion of the time:
"Although Virginia and other southern colonies had limited sumptuary laws, New England regularly passed and attempted to enforce their legislation to a far greater extent than elsewhere in the colonies. Part of this might have been the rejection of the extravagant fashions popular in England, where men wore long wigs, high heels, and tight breeches. Women's faces were painted, and dramatically plunging necklines were flaunted. These ostentatious, gender-bending styles were part of what drove Puritans to flee Europe, and they sought to prevent such fashions from tainting the purified world they had traveled accross the ocean to establish. Particular styles and artticles of clothing were often permitted only to the wealthy. New England proclaimed £200 to be the dividing line between the elite and the working classes. The overwhelming majority of women who were not among the elite were forbidden from wearing silk hoods, excessively wide sleeves, or plunging necklines. Flamboyant display of gold, silver buttons, ribbons, and lace was also forbidden. Hairstyles came under censure too. In 1679, the Massachusetts General Court was prompted to express their offended sensibilities by writing : « Whereas there is manifest pride openly appearing among us by some women wearing borders of hair, and their cutting, curling, and immodest laying out of their hair, » women were advised to choose more modest styles (Fischer 1989, 41). (…) A low-necked dress, dripping with exprensive lace, was a sign of vanity, pride and undue attention to material goods. Puritans did not summarily reject the concept of beauty. Indeed, they believed outward beauty often expressed inward virtue. Modest dressing for seventeenth- century Puritan America allowed for forfitting and flattering clothing, as evidenced by portraits of stunningly attired women. Clothing was considered immodest only when it displayed too much flesh, too much wealth, or anything that blurred gender lines."

Emulation appeared at the time, that is to say, even though the way people dressed indicated their social status, poorer women started to wear expensive clothing, making it difficult or impossible to guess if they were servants or mistresses.

Lady Anne Pope by Robert Peake, 1615

 The costume designer represented the women in the series so as the viewers know their position at first glance. The higher in society, the more colourful and detailed the dress is.
Joseph A. Porro, Costume Designer for Salem

Mary Sibley, who is George Sibley's wife, the mayor of Salem, is thus the woman in the highest position of all Salem. She often wears somptuous dresses with many details and beautiful jewellery. 

The color used may imply different symbols and significations.
Black symbolizes neutrality but also death, reminding us that she is a witch. Moreover, she often wears black in public for she told everyone that her husband was severily sick, it is thus a way to appear in total sobriety in the eyes of everyone.
Green usually represents jalousy but here, it would represent evil. Green is often associated with snakes, vipers, which are considered as evil creatures, so as Mary. 
She also appears in gold which would refer to her wealth and by the same effect, her power in society. It could also refer to her magic powers; indeed, dressed entirely in gold makes her look like a queen or even like a goddess, that is to say a true rival to God, and so she is.

It is also the case of the Countess Marburg, a very rich and powerful woman who happens to be a witch as well, but a very old one. In order to keep her youth and beauty, she practices the art of blooming which consists in bathing into young woman's and children's blood.

The Countess Marburg, Season 2, Episode 9
Later, in season 2, Mercy Lewis also wears beautiful dresses. This is a means to reveal that she is reborn and more feminine and beautiful than ever. She only appears wearing pink dresses with a lot of rubbons, the pink color symoblizing youth, femininity and innocence which comes both in contrast and in adequation with the character of Mercy Lewis. Indeed, on the one hand, she is a pure and innocent child whose life has been teared apart because of the witches, she is a victim of evil, but on the other hand, she is a monster herself, hence the fact that she recovered her beauty from bathing in the blood of her own friend, Lollie.

Mercy Lewis' first appearance after learning the art of blooming, Season 2, Episode 7
Mercy Lewis, Season 2, Episode 13

Thus, some liberties have been taken by the costume designer to create an entertaining and beautiful wardrobe, but we can come to the conclusion that the costume crew still tried to be historically accurate and the mix between both works perfectly well.

Rebuilding a Faithful Salem: the Set

From the pilot, the viewers are enabled to have a clear perspective of the town of Salem. The main places where the action is taking place throughout the show, are presented right away to the audience so as to make it familiar with them.
Salem, the series, depicts a rather faithful and sticking to the reality Salem. In an interview for Collider, when Production Designer Seth Reed is asked "It is a history show but it's also a fantasy show, are you taking liberties or are you trying to be as historically accurate as possible?", he answers: " Well, both. We start with being as accurate as we can, as much research as we can get, as much knowledge about the color palettes, about the materials that we used, about the types of architecture, there were a lot of research about the architecture of the period, but then at some point we get the pleasure of digressing away depending on what the script asks us to do. Were there really brothels in the 17th-century Salem ? Probably not. Would they have used colors like this ? Probably not. But in order to convey some of the pieces important to the script, we have to do it. It's been fun."

 The public place and prison, Season 1, Episode 1
 The public place where convicts get punished in front of the village. Executions take place on the wooden stage in order to be visible by all. Under the stage, there are cells where people are held either before being released or being punished.

Outside the church
Inside the church
It is a key place of the show. People often go to the church where the mass takes place, but also the trials.
Indeed, the church is also the court. Every sentence is proclamed in this place. It is thus a place of God, religion but also of justice and punishment. It makes the connection between good and evil in a Puritan point of view. In the final episode of season 2, the church is burnt down after a fight between Mary Sibley and the Countess Marburg. Therefore, even if it is a sacred place, the witches win over it ; evil beats good.

The woods
The shore

The docks
Here are two interesting places: the woods and the shore.
The woods are a place where man did not settle. It represents the wilderness. Nature is represented as a big and powerful force ; indeed, the hive hides there. It is also the place where a seer lives and where dead bodies are being rid of. It is thus a powerful place, full of magic but which symbolizes death as well. Yet, it is where Mary Sibley became a witch, it is thus a place of revival. Interestingly enough, this is where the Native Americans - that we will call Indians - live and appear in the TV series.
On the contrary, the shore is next to the village; it is a place where boats sail. They bring resources, goods in Salem but we can imagine that they also ship goods from Salem to other colonies. It is thus a place of commerce, where the economy grows and it symbolizes the settlement, the obvious mark of mankind into the landscape. This is where the settlers live.
A clear opposition is then made between the settlers and the Indians and between these two places. 

The streets: dwellings of the poor

The streets: an animated place
As we can see it on these stills from the TV series, the streets are represented as filty and dark. The poor live in that place of the town and work in the mud. The streets are half-paved, pavements are only to be seen in front of buildings such as the bar or even the whore house. The streets are then portrayed as an animated area where the daily life takes place.

At the Sibley's
At the Hale's
These two houses are the most important ones in all Salem.

At first, we notice that the Sibley's is darker and bigger than the Hale's, maybe was it made in order to point out to the viewers who is the most powerful in town and who is the witch (Mary Sibley). Later, the viewers get to see a secret place inside the Hale's, only accessible by magic.

Production Designer Seth Reed said about the reconstruction of Salem: "We had a very large crew and we came in during the month of August, there was a lot of planning to do, all the usual surveying and we had a huge team of set designers. An then from there, we came in and started building. Between the carpenters and all the craft people, the decorators and everybody else, we probably had a couple of hundred people working seven days a week for two straight months, even nine or ten weeks, to get it out and ready, and that was only a partial job because then and ever since, I've come in and I've just been adding more and more to everything that you see, everything around."