A historical view of witchcraft in seven parts and a variety of styles. First, there is a slide-show alternating inter-titles with drawings and paintings to illustrate the behavior of pagan... See full summary »
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Gabriel de Gravone
A historical view of witchcraft in seven parts and a variety of styles. First, there is a slide-show alternating inter-titles with drawings and paintings to illustrate the behavior of pagan cultures in the Middle Ages regarding their vision of demons and witches. Then there is a dramatization of the situation of the witches in the Middle Ages, witchcraft and witch-hunts. Finally the film compares the behavior of hysteria of contemporary (1921) women with the behavior of the witches in the Middle Ages, concluding that they are very similar. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
To achieve the scene in which the witches are flying over the roofs of the town, Benjamin Christensen and his cameraman Johan Ankerstjerne photographed a miniature town (with each house about 2 meters in height) on an enormous turntable, which operated manually and took the strength of 20 men to operate. Then, several costumed actors were photographed on broomsticks against a black background. To make the heavy costumes ripple in the "wind" Christiansen brought in an airplane motor. A total of 75 witches were photographed, each individually, and a special optical printer was built by Ankerstjerne to put them together (only about three of four appear on the screen at one time). The construction of a model town was decided upon after test footage proved the original idea of shooting from a movie train was a bad one, as too many modern structures, not to mention telephone poles and wires, were unavoidable. The test footage survives and is superimposed with Christiansen seated in a chair, acting out the part of a witch. See more »
The monk drains his wine glass. When he chases the maid round the table in the next shot it is half full. See more »
Poor little hysterical witch! In the middle ages you were in conflict with the church. Now it is with the law.
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This film gives us a thoughtful look at the horrifying potential of fear, ignorance and superstition. I have to say I admire the courage Benjamin Christensen showed in making this film which not only must have offended the sensibilities of the time for the obvious reasons but also because it dared to champion reason over superstition as a way of explaining things which we do not fully understand. This film resonates with its message that those who judged others unjust may not have been just themselves.
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