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
Maria, the weaver (one of the persecuted witches) was played by Maren Pedersen, whom Christensen allegedly discovered while she was selling flowers on a street corner. Pedersen claimed that she was the first Red Cross nurse in Denmark. During the shoot, Pedersen reportedly turned to Christensen and said, "The Devil is real. I have seen him sitting at my bedside." Christensen was so struck by this confession of modern demonic activity (or at least the belief in modern demonic activity) that he incorporated this anecdote into the film itself. 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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