In a world where witches are real, the townsfolk fight for their lives, but who is really the one being hunted? Salem shows us a different perspective on the ancient witch trials. Without giving too much away, we follow the trials of Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery) and John Alton (Shane West) and their quest for truth and justice in a town called Salem. In most of reenactments of the 17th century witch trials, we see are always shown the perspective of the puritans. Salem shows us the other side, the witches side, and how they are dealing with the trials.
Out of all the characters and all the costumes for the series, Mary Sibley’s costumes are by far the most remarkable. Usually in a dark colour pallet, Mary is seen sporting lace and gems with matching cloaks or accessories. Her clothes are very detailed and well crafted. The subtle details that are incorporated into the design are what bring out the beauty of the fabrics and silhouettes used. The dynamic lighting also changed the appearance of the clothes. Below is the same photo with two different lighting sources/edits. You can clearly see in one of the photos that there is much more detail and colour to be seen and light to be reflected off the soft fabric. Compared to the other photo, where the dress drinks the light and becomes more subtle and muted.
Designed by Joseph A Porro, the costumes he has created breath life into every scene they are featured in. Designing costumes for over fifty featured films and series, from Stuart Little to Stargate, Joseph has worked on a wide range of sets and characters. Check out his website http://www.josephporro.com/ to see what other films you remember his costumes from. Though the costumes seem very costly, Joseph says that he is working on a shoestring budget and doesn’t have all the funds he would like to. Budget or no, the costumes he has been producing are breathtaking and so intricate, you sometimes look past the costume itself. Towards the end of season one, there is a beautiful black dress with little dragonflies stitched on the top portion of the skirt and bodice. There was also a matching pair of dragonfly earrings created to go with the ensemble.
Black and embellished with what appear to be cream colours thistles, this gown is magnificent down to the last stitch. It is beautifully ornamented with large pearls on a thin metal chain. The elegance that this dress provides is remarkable. No one wearing this could be described less than astonishing. The embroidery alone is worth praising, with such fine detail, the thistle pattern weaves its way up the sides of the front skirt to the base of the bodice and on both the collar and cuffs of the garment.
Finding photos of some of my favourite pieces from Salem has been quite difficult. There is a particular dress in season one where Mary is wearing a deep blue dress with silver spider webs laced on top. Initially the webs look like bits of lace, it’s only when you get a freeze frame or you pause the tv and notice that they are fine silver spiderwebs. If I am ever able to find it I will most definitely edit the post to include the photo.With the beautiful comes the strange. In addition to all the beautiful things made for Mary Sibley there is tale of more interesting and grotesque costumes to come. One dress particularly is to be made of human hair in the upcoming season. It is going to be knitted and woven together from multiple sources, and I can’t wait to see what it will look like and what colour it turns out to be.
Once character that has stuck me all through the series has been Mercy Lewis. Initially we are introduced to Mercy as a possessed girl from town. Mad and unable to deny the demon within, she mutilates herself and attempts harm on others. Later in the season she gains help and no longer is controlled by the demon but becomes one herself. Once changed, is lied to and betrayed leading her to change again, claiming the title of Queen of the Night. To a degree I can understand Mercy’s wariness to trust the other witches, and want to bring her own vengeance forward. What really bothers me about her the amount of knowledge and skill the writers provide her. For being a novice witch she seems able to surpass those much older and more practiced. Especially when we compare it to a particular character that will remain nameless at this time. When she discovers she has magic in her, her emotions get the best of her and the next thing you know there is blood everywhere. Just like when Harry Potter was young and hasn’t attended Hogwarts yet, he was letting snakes out of the zoo and it was his emotions that were the source of his power. Now Mercy does have reason for her emotions to be running wild. She was tortured and made to self mutilate, her family has been killed, she can no longer live in the village, and instead lives with corpses. Personally, I feel this is cause for her inner magic to be running wild. How can someone with so much turmoil taking place in their life be calm, collected and be able to fully hone all her magic skills and control it all. We know that she hasn’t been provided with much training, and during the training she was given we can see that she is very skilled, but why. This is the one thing I have an issue with in the show. Otherwise I love the character, Elise Eberly does a remarkable job bringing life to the character.
The second comment I have regarding Mercy refers to the children in the village. If you are a child in Salem during the witch trials, and you know Mercy to be the child with the demon inside her, why would you trust her? At one point of the show, Mercy gathers all the children and gives them this large speech and joins them to her cause. If we know her to be controlled by demons, and see her do these weird horrible things, dressed in a blood soaked dress after living with the corpses, for I would assume some time now, why would you stay and listen. Did I mention that they were all gathered and brought to the area outside town where all the unwanted corpses go? SO not to mention everything odd about Mercy initially, but add in being removed from your home at night, to be marched off with all the other children, to be brought to a ravine of corpses… why stay, why believe….
On that note, I would like to encourage everyone to check out the new series Salem. There are two completed seasons and season three is to premier this fall of 2016. Also let it be known there are some gorier portions of the show. I know there are some real gore fans out there and will laugh when this is described as gorey, but for those faint of heart, just be aware.