While work is currently under way on Tin Foiled, a dive into how the term conspiracy theory has been weaponised, I’m increasingly finding myself looking back and cross referencing research and work I had done in 2019 and 2020, on the Mathew Hopkins focused documentary “The Watching“. Both subjects share some similar themes and hopefully I’ll expand on these more as they roll out.
The film, which I’d originally planned to complete for 2021, has like many other things, been seriously knocked back following the mayhem of the last couple of years. A small blessing is, it’s given me more time to look back over some of the material and re examine the core thread of the tale.
So now I’m hoping to expand on several key elements of the Hopkins ( and belief in witchcraft ) story, but with a focus on one in particular. That is his journey from his own self perception as monster hunter, until he became something far worse. It’s becoming an an increasingly common theme, particularly in modern screen writing, that goes way beyond the simpler anti hero and is perfectly summed up in this quote:
“He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
— Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
Hopkins certainly had a personal family grievance with those who practised witchcraft and he was almost certainly an opportunist looking to profit from the next “gig”. But his obsession with ridding the world of what he perceived as evil, caused massive devastation, which lasted well beyond his death. His writings were often referenced by those involved in the Salem witch trials, half a century later. It also seems likely that this overwhelming obsession, which saw him regularly visiting jails with squalid conditions, also contributed to his own very early demise ( he died at 24 ).