IMDb > Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922)
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Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922) More at IMDbPro »Häxan (original title)

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Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages -- Grave robbing, torture, possessed nuns, and a satanic Sabbath: Benjamin Christensen's legendary film uses a series of dramatic vignettes to explore the scientific hypothesis that the witches of the Middle Ages suffered the same hysteria as turn-of-the-century psychiatric patients. But the film itself is far from serious--instead it's a witches' brew of the scary, gross, and darkly humorous.


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Release Date:
27 May 1929 (USA) See more »
Benjamin Christensens stora film.
Fictionalized documentary showing the evolution of witchcraft, from its pagan roots to its confusion with hysteria in modern Europe. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
(20 articles)
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User Reviews:
One of the weirdest and most bizarre of all time See more (67 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)
Maren Pedersen ... Heksen / The Witch
Clara Pontoppidan ... 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 ... Djævlen / The Devil
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
Ib Schønberg ... Heksedommer / Witch Judge
Emmy Schønfeld ... Marie, the Seamstress (as Emmy Schönfeld)
Frederik Christensen ... Borger / Citizen (as Frederick Christensen)
Ella La Cour ... Troldkvinde / Magician (as Ella la Cour)
Elisabeth Christensen ... En ældre bondekone / Older Farm Lady (as Elizabeth Christensen)
Henry Seemann ... Borger / Citizen
Alice O'Fredericks ... Nonne / Nun
Knud Rassow ... Anatomen

William S. Burroughs ... Narrator (1968 re-release) (voice) (as William Burroughs)
Ellen Rassow ... En tjenestepige / Maid
Holst Jørgensen ... Ole Kighul
H.C. Nielsen ... Juveler assistent / Jeweler's Assistant
Albrecht Schmidt ... Nervelæge / Neurologist
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Karina Bell ... Nun (uncredited)
Karen Caspersen ... Unidentified (uncredited)
Holger Pedersen ... Unidentified (uncredited)

Directed by
Benjamin Christensen 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Benjamin Christensen 

Original Music by
Matti Bye (restored version: 2006)
Launy Grøndahl 
Daniel Humair (1968)
Barði Jóhannsson (new score 2006) (as Bardi Johannsson)
Emil Reesen (1941)
Ludwig van Beethoven (original score 1922) (as Ludwig von Beethoven)
Art Zoyd (1997)
Cinematography by
Johan Ankerstjerne 
Film Editing by
Edla Hansen 
Art Direction by
Richard Louw 
Set Decoration by
Richard Louw 
Art Department
L. Mathiesen .... art department assistant
Helge Norél .... art department assistant
Camera and Electrical Department
Rudolf Frederiksen .... assistant camera
Music Department
Daniel Humair .... musician: percussion (1968 re-release)
Bernard Lubat .... musician: piano organ (1968 re-release)
Guy Pedersen .... musician: double bass (1968 re-release)
Jean-Luc Ponty .... musician: violin (1968 re-release)
Michel Portal .... musician: flute (1968 re-release)
Ludwig van Beethoven .... music: 1922 version
Other crew
Antony Balch .... re-release producer (1968 sound re-release)
Paul Brewer .... unspecified assistant (1968 release)
Norman Glass .... unspecified assistant (1968 re-release)
Alice O'Fredericks .... script girl

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Häxan" - Sweden (original title)
"The Witches" - USA (informal title)
See more »
91 min | Sweden:87 min | USA:77 min (1968 re-release) | 104 min (DVD version) | Argentina:87 min | 122 min (original version)
Black and White (Sepiatone)
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:13 | Canada:PG (Ontario) | Canada:G (Quebec) | Finland:(Banned) (1923) | Sweden:15 | UK:15 (1994) | UK:X (1968) | USA:Not Rated
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Although financed by Swedish backers, the film was shot entirely at Benjamin Christensen's old studio in Denmark.See more »
Revealing mistakes: 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 »
Title Card:Poor little hysterical witch! In the middle ages you were in conflict with the church. Now it is with the law.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The Blair Witch Project (1999)See more »


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26 out of 28 people found the following review useful.
One of the weirdest and most bizarre of all time, 5 August 1999
Author: MrETrain from Atlanta, GA USA

More commonly known as "Witchcraft Through the Ages", this is definitely one of the most bizarre, visually arresting movies of all time, even nearly 80 years later. It starts out as a rather dry documentary, detailing medieval superstitions and folklore while showing ancient woodcarvings of witches and demons in various forms. Then we move on into the dramatic portion of the film. In one scene we see witches concocting potions using the body parts of corpses from the gallows. One witch walks in carrying a bundle of sticks, and undoes the bundle revealing a decomposed human hand hidden inside. Fans of "The Blair Witch Project" should take notice, especially considering that the Danish title of this film is "Haxan", also the name of the movie company that created "Blair Witch".

Director Benjamin Christensen appears as a leering, tongue-wagging Satan, with very realistic makeup. The witches are shown with the Devil and his minions performing various acts of sacrilege and perversion that must have been extremely shocking at the time the movie originally appeared, and would be offensive to many people still. The film was banned for many years because of the depiction of these acts (not to mention the occasional nudity), as well as sacrileges performed by nuns and monks. There are some stop-motion animation sequences (pre-Harryhousen, no less) that are very good, especially for the time. This is a difficult movie to describe. It really is something that you'd have to see for yourself.

The version I am reviewing is actually the re-issue from 1966, with a dubbed-over narration by beat novelist/junkie William Burroughs, and a modern, jazzy score featuring Jean-Luc Ponty. I enjoyed Burroughs' narration quite a bit, but oftimes the music is annoyingly inappropriate. Sometimes it works very well, but most of the time I was wishing for a standard orchestral, or vitaphone, score. A Klezmer score, even, would have been very effective. There are a few different versions available, some with subtitles and an orchestral score. Maybe one of these days they'll come out with a version featuring the Burroughs narration along with a more appropriate orchestral score. That would be perfect. As it is, this an impressive, compulsively watchable film that still goes further than most dare to go, even in these much more permissive times.

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