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I Walked With a White Woman

The motive force of vodou is asserted by Paul and Wesley's mother, Mrs. Rand (Edith Barrett), who confesses to asking a houngan to zombify Jessica as revenge for being unfaithful to her son. Though Dr. Maxwell (James Bell) dismisses Mrs. Rand as an "imaginative woman," the scenes which follow testify to the power of vodou to corrupt white women. In these scenes, a crouching dark-skinned man gestures in such a way that a small white doll on a string draws closer to him while drummers play in the background. The doll is meant to represent Jessica, and in the cutaway a stupefied Jessica listlessly attempts to leave Fort Holland. With Paul and Betsy on one side of the estate's gate and a returning Wesley on the other, however, Jessica is prevented. Wesley asserts the power of vodou, asking "Why did she come out here? How can they make her move, do anything they want? They can make anybody do what they want."

I Walked with a Zombie. Dir. Jacques Tourneur. 1943.1
(01:00:33 - 01:02:25)

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The juxtaposition of Mrs. Rand's confession, Wesley's conviction, the houngan's actions, and Jessica's zombified compliance insinuates that Haitian religious practice is at the root of Jessica's behavior. Mrs. Rand's "revenge," then, can be read both as a blacking of Jessica's identity to punish Jessica for having violated her marital vows and as an after-the-fact placing of Jessica under the power of vodou to motivate her infidelity. end of article

1 Footage has been deleted from the excerpt and replaced by text indicating "FOOTAGE CUT".

I Walked with a Zombie. Dir. Jacques Tourneur. 1943.