Search - Voodoo Secrets (History Channel) on DVD

Voodoo Secrets (History Channel)
Voodoo Secrets
History Channel
Genres: Television, Educational, Documentary
NR     2006     0hr 50min

A cult of magic spells, diabolical curses, and dolls stuck with pins? Over the past several centuries, the highly controversial and myth-laden practice of voodoo has been systematically maligned, persecuted, and nearly wip...  more »


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Movie Details

Genres: Television, Educational, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Television, Educational, History
Studio: A&E Home Video
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 03/28/2006
Original Release Date: 01/01/2005
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2005
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 0hr 50min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Good for pan-Africanists
Jeffery Mingo | Homewood, IL USA | 12/02/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This documentary basically says, "Yes, animal sacrifices are involved and yes, it can be used for evil purposes, but voodoo is a long-standing, highly-numerous religion that deserves respect." I'm cool with that! The documentary implies, "Why is it that Saint Patrick, who rid Ireland of snakes, is respected, but an African god whose symbol is the snake is viewed as dangerous?" Right on! Fight the Eurocentrism!

Too often, continental Africans, black West Indians, and African Americans will fight tooth and nail not to be associated with each other. But for those of us who believe in Black unity, often called pan-Africanists, you will love this work. The documentary's first segment takes place in Benin, the second in Haiti, and the last in New Orleans. In each place, you see beautiful black skins, colorful clothes, and great music. You also see communities (men, women, and children) united in worshipping African-originated spirits and gods.

My only critique of this film is that Spanish-language Santeria and Portuguese-language Candombl'e is not brought up. Not only Anglophone and Francophone Blacks worship in traditional West African styles. Those in Brazil and Hispanophone Latin American do and can too."
An excellent look at voodoo practices and beliefs
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 12/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"First off, I have to confess a measure of confusion about this particular documentary. I watched a video clearly identified as Voodoo Secrets from the History Channel, but it ran almost ninety minutes (the label shows fifty minutes) and seems to correspond rather closely with the description of an A&E documentary on the history of Voodoo. Still, the box, the VHS label, and the documentary itself identified this as Voodoo Secrets, and my search of bibliographic records of this title indicate the running time is listed incorrectly on the label, so I've done all I can to make sure I am reviewing the correct item here.

As for the video itself, it offers an informative, detailed look at voodoo from its origins in western Africa to its different manifestations in the Western Hemisphere, particularly New Orleans and Haiti, focusing on voodoo as a religion. Acknowledging its negative connotations in western society, it seeks to demystify and explain some of voodoo's more esoteric features even as it makes the case that this ancient religion has influenced the world around it to a surprising extent. I think it takes this way too far, suggesting that rock 'n' roll - and Elvis Presley in particular - were influenced greatly by the rhythms and movements of the music and dancing of voodoo ceremonies.

I learned a lot about voodoo from this documentary, but I don't know that I feel any differently about it - you're still talking about a religion with an indeterminate number of gods, each of whom is quite human in tastes, reverence of a serpent god, the use of human remains in voodoo ceremonies, animal sacrifice (and, at least in the past, the drinking of the sacrifice's blood), possession, divination, communication with dead ancestors, and a belief in zombification. I do, however, have a deeper appreciation of voodoo as a religion and not just some kind of black magic mumbo jumbo, thanks to interviews with voodoo practitioners and initiates as well as several scholars.

Perhaps the most interesting bit of information this documentary presents is voodoo's interrelationship with other religions. New Orleans' most famous voodoo priestess, Marie Laveau, we are told, was a devout Catholic who attended Mass daily, and at least one voodoo group featured here believes that other religions can actually enhance the powers of voodoo. Another interesting bit of information is the Supreme Court's unanimous 1993 decision that protects animal sacrifice for religious purposes.

What this documentary does best is show you what voodoo is all about, courtesy of those who follow its traditions. Rather than letting talking heads expound upon voodoo practices, you are able to watch examples of divination, spirit possession, and ceremonial dancing for yourself (fortunately, the viewer is spared the sight of any animal sacrifice). The academics contribute much to the discussion, particularly in terms of putting everything into a larger context, but this really is a most unbiased and illuminating look at a belief system few of us in the West can even begin to understand."
Decent info, but could have been much better.
Rhett D. Sorensen | Provo, Ut USA | 12/31/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)

"This DVD was geared mostly towards explaining voodoo as a religion. It takes you too a village in West Africa and shows some voodoo rituals and tells how the locals think of it. It then gives an historical account of a slave rebellion in Haiti and how tradition correlates the uprisings success to voodoo magic. The last major thing it covers is a brief history of Marie Laveau of New Orleans.
In all it had some interesting facts and suggestions. I found it to be a little TOO pro-voodoo, as it didn't discuss much of the negative aspects of the religion. There was another voodoo history channel I saw on TV that was considerably more engageing than this one. However, this was worth watching and lends another perspective."
Introduction to the religion of voodoo
Kim Boykin | New York, NY | 02/20/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is a 45-minute documentary from the History Channel about voodoo (or vodou, or vodun), a religion that originated in West Africa and, when it migrated to the Americas, incorporated elements of Christianity. Followers of voodoo believe in spirits who occupy an intermediate place between humans and the supreme God.

The film shows voodoo practices in Benin (West Africa) for serving and petitioning the spirits, including animal sacrifice, spirit possession, and healing rituals. The film also examines the use of voodoo in slave revolts in Haiti and discusses Marie Laveau, the "voodoo queen" of nineteenth-century New Orleans. One of the commentators in the film is a contemporary mambo (priestess) in New Orleans.

To find other videos on voodoo, search for "vodou" as well as "voodoo."

(If you're interested in reading about how West African religious views and practices were melded with Christian views and practices in the religion of African slaves in the U.S., I'd recommend Mechal Sobel's "Trabelin' On: The Slave Journey to an Afro-Baptist Faith," which is scholarly but relatively readable.)"