Fictionalized documentary showing the evolution of witchcraft, from its pagan roots to its confusion with hysteria in modern Europe.
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Maren Pedersen ...
Heksen / The Witch
...
Nonne / Nun
Elith Pio ...
Heksedommer / Witch Judge (The Young Monk)
Oscar Stribolt ...
Graabroder / Doctor (The Fat Monk)
Tora Teje ...
En hysterisk kvinde / Modern Hysteric (The Kelptomaniac)
John Andersen ...
Chief Inquisitor (as Johs Andersen)
Benjamin Christensen ...
Poul Reumert ...
Juveler / Jeweler
Karen Winther ...
Anna
Kate Fabian ...
Gammel jomfru / Old Maid
Else Vermehren ...
Nonne / Nun
Astrid Holm ...
Anna
Johannes Andersen ...
Heksedommer / Witch Judge
Gerda Madsen ...
Nonne / Nun
Aage Hertel ...
Heksedommer / Witch Judge
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Storyline

Part history lesson followed by re-enactments with actors, this film takes depicts the history of witchcraft from its earliest days through to the present day (in this case,1922 or thereabouts). The result is a documentary-like film that must be among the first to use re-enactments as a visual and narrative tool. From pagan worship to satanic rites to hysteria, the film takes you on a journey through the ages with highly effective visual sequences. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Benjamin Christensens stora film.


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

27 May 1929 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

SEK 2,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1968 re-release) | (DVD) | (original)

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

(Sepiatone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In addition to playing the devil, director Benjamin Christensen also has a brief appearance as Christ. He also appears as himself in the very first shot of the film. See more »

Goofs

The monk drains his wine glass. When he chases the maid round the table in the next shot it is half full. See more »

Quotes

Title Card: Centuries have passed and the Almighty of medieval times no longer sits in his tenth sphere.
Title Card: We no longer sit in church staring terrified at the frescoes of the devils.
Title Card: The witch no longer flies away on her broom over the rooftops.
Title Card: But isn't superstition still rampant among us?
Title Card: Is there an obvious difference between the sorceress and her customer then and now?
Title Card: We no longer burn our old and poor. But do they not often suffer bitterly?
Title Card: And the little woman, whom we call hysterical, alone and ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Director Benjamin Christensen personally thanks his cinematographer and art director through the opening titles. See more »

Connections

Featured in Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

A Visually Striking, Thought-Provoking Feature
28 February 2005 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

The striking visuals would in themselves be sufficient reason to watch "Häxan", but in addition it is a thought-provoking feature that combines dark humor, some occasional chilling moments, and perceptive commentary on human nature. It's an unusual package and an unusual feature, and there aren't many films quite like it.

Simply on the surface, the series of unusual visuals and believable recreations of bygone eras would make for interesting viewing. Benjamin Christensen added a strong dose of the macabre to practically every scene, even in some of the smaller details that are only noticeable upon repeat viewings. Some of it is fascinating, some of it unsettling, all of it interesting.

But there is much more to "Häxan" than a mere collection of grotesque images and vignettes. Towards the end, in particular, the commentary becomes quite pointed. It is quite easy for anyone - film-maker, writer, commentator - to criticize and condemn the beliefs and practices of the Middle Ages or of any other long past era. But it is far more of a challenge to, as Christensen has done here, point out the sometimes devastating parallels to one's own era. It is always such a comforting fiction to believe that we are so much more enlightened than past generations have been, and yet it is rarely if ever true.

Christensen aptly illustrates the point that the inability to deal with the odd, the eccentric, and the unusual in our fellow beings is a perennial failing of humanity. Each generation simply devises its own means of stigmatizing and punishing those who cannot conform. (Nor is our own generation markedly better than was Christensen's.) This feature can certainly be viewed (either in the original silent version, or in the 1960s version with some spoken narration) for entertainment value alone. But it is even more pertinent in its observations on human nature. It's an often unsettling movie, with some images that might be bit too uncomfortable for some viewers. But for all that, it's an unusual and worthwhile viewing experience.


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