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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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
The Swedish film censors required numerous cuts in the film, before authorizing its release. Among the censored scenes were the closeup of the finger being removed from the hanged man's hand, the trampling of the cross in the witch's sabbath scene, the shot of the oozing infant held over a cooking pot, a closeup of a woman's face while she is on a torture rack, closeups of several instruments of torture being employed, and a shot of a demon embracing a nude woman (all these shots have since been restored to the film). See more »
The skeletal horse-like creature wandering around during the sabbath is clearly being moved about by a couple of stage hands, hidden under the blanket that covers it's "body". The feet of the crew member at the front of the monster are visible in one shot. 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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Directed by Scandinavian filmmaker Benjamin Christensen, Haxan' / Witchcraft Through the Ages' (1922) is a head-trippy silent film depicting black magic, witchcraft, and demonology from the middle ages to the 20th century. Shot and presented in documentary form, the film is more akin to a pseudo-scholarly lecture with moving visual aids. Not as intense or as shocking today as upon its initial release, the film is filled with nightmarish images that are certainly profane and explicit, but also humorous and downright silly.
Yes, sex goes hand-in-hand with Satan, and Christensen's flamboyant portrayal of the aforementioned character, complete with flicking, wanton tongue, drives home the point (well, that and a peppering of nudity). Unique to say the least, Haxan' is a rather weird curio of a film with some incredibly atmospheric, somewhat graphic images, esp. for that era.
The Criterion dvd includes the silent original and the 1968 re-release with an electric jazz-fusion score by Jean Luc Ponty and narration by William S. Burroughs. Burroughs' voice is a treat in itself, and the jazz-fusion score is absolutely frenetic. --- david ross smith
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