People often ask me about the name BELLADONNA why? what does it mean where did it come from? Well once upon a time in a land far far away..(or at least 2 years ago) I was refining thescreenplay in which the 16th Century lead character Jadwiga,is a herbalist, and back then it wasn't so easy to be one as they were considered to be witches. So I researched the commonly used herbs back in the 16th Century and here are just a few:
Butterfly weed, Lady’s Mantle, St. John's Wort, Foxglove, Belladonna, Dwarf Iris
Evening Primrose and many more....
Can you imagine a film called "Dwarf Iris"? or Lady's Mantle? or St. John's Wort? (that could be a nice dark sort of children's fairytale about St John)so I did come to the conclusion that BELLADONNA was pretty good... Lily of the Valley was the second favourite.
In the past, it was believed that witches used a mixture of belladonna, opium poppy, and other plants, typically poisonous (such as monkshood and poison hemlock) in flying ointment they applied to help them fly to gatherings with other witches... Ohh dear imagination and all that fear.. and all those women who were drowned and burnt because of their relationships with nature.
The common name BELLADONNA originates from its historic use by women - Bella Donna is Italian for beautiful lady. Drops prepared from the belladonna plant were used to dilate women's pupils, an effect considered attractive, but also incredibly dangerous as the dose between beauty and death was unknown.
Belladonna is one of the most toxic plants found in the Western hemisphere. All parts of the plant contain tropane alkaloids. When we arrived in Poland in April to shoot the 16th Century part we wanted to find the actual plant with flowers as it is fareasier easier to use the real instead of making each flower individually. We missed the flowering season my 6 weeks, and had to make each individual flower by hand. The Production Designer and the Art department made them out of rose petals..(as they had to be eatable) hand painting every flower with purple food dye.
Have a look some of the photos below.
P.S Belladonna the movie is now on FACEBOOK, and if you are a fan here please join us there we are new and would love some company.
Katia Mazurek who plays Jadwiga was incredibly wonderful this day.. as most of the day she had to sit in the cold ditch eating the flowers..this shot was particularly tricky as it involved a descending camera, snow and perfect timing of all action.