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

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Overview

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Release Date:
27 May 1929 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Benjamin Christensens stora film.
Plot:
A historical view of witchcraft in seven parts and a variety of styles. First, there is a slide-show... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
HAXAN (1922) ***1/2 See more (62 total) »

Cast

  (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)
Emil Reesen (1941)
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)
 
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 »
Runtime:
91 min | Sweden:87 min | USA:77 min (1968 re-release) | 104 min (DVD version) | Argentina:87 min
Country:
Language:
Color:
Black and White (Sepiatone)
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Certification:
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?

Trivia:
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 »
Goofs:
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 »
Quotes:
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:

FAQ

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33 out of 42 people found the following review useful.
HAXAN (1922) ***1/2, 13 June 2004
Author: MARIO GAUCI (marrod@melita.com) from Naxxar, Malta

After many tribulations and false starts (including having my Order cancelled by the retailer due to lack of funds on my Credit Card and having the DVD stolen - by some stingy customs official, I presume – when it was finally shipped!), I recently managed to sit down and watch in its entirety, The Criterion Collection's DVD of Benjamin Christensen's HAXAN.

What an amazing film! What a fabulous disc! Apart from featuring a beautifully restored, tinted version of the original, full-length semi-documentary and its 1967 'revamping' for US audiences (redundant perhaps, but it is still nice to be able to compare the images in black and white), it also contains one of the best Audio Commentaries I have ever listened to. It is the work of Casper Tybjerg who also recorded an equally impressive one for the Criterion DVD of Carl Theodor Dreyer's THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC.

I think it is opportune that I mention the Dreyer film at this point because there are undeniable similarities between Christensen's film (released in 1922) and Dreyer's 'symphony of faces' (from 1928) and also his DAY OF WRATH (1943). HAXAN features two lengthy interrogation scenes involving devious clergymen and an old crone accused of witchcraft, which accusations turn out to have been true (as in DAY OF WRATH) and another one where an innocent waif is trapped into admitting her guilt (as in THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC). This is not to say that Dreyer 'lifted' these passages from Christensen's film – actually Dreyer is one of my favorite film directors and I consider THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC to be one of the greatest films ever made – but rather that he admired his work enough to pay homage to him in his later films. HAXAN also features an extensive use of close ups in its interrogation scenes, which were of course the hallmark of Dreyer's entire Joan of Arc film. Its influence may also be traced to the narrative structure of Luis Bunuel's anarchic classic of surrealism, L'AGE D'OR (1930), which testifies that Benjamin Christensen is a major artist, one who was held in high esteem by his peers in his day, but whose work was subsequently unjustly forgotten and vastly under-appreciated, due in part to its utter unavailability for serious evaluation.

HAXAN contains several incredible sequences depicting devil worship in a very vivid manner which still retain their power to shock today eighty years later. I do not know how Christensen was allowed to get away with it back then – and indeed the film was heavily censored in its initial showings around the world – but I guess it was evident that the director's aim was not to wallow gratuitously in sensationalism but to portray as realistic a tableau of witchcraft through the ages as was possible at the time. There are some scenes which make you wince once in a while (like the slaughter of the child with blood pouring down its legs into a chalice beneath it), but there is enough going on visually to take your mind off its undercurrent of gore and depravity. One cannot underestimate the fact that without HAXAN there would probably never have been such horror film touchstones like Rex Ingram's THE MAGICIAN (1926), Edgar G. Ulmer's THE BLACK CAT (1934), Jacques Tourneur's NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1957), Mario Bava's BLACK Sunday (1960), John Moxey's THE CITY OF THE DEAD (1960), Sidney Hayers' NIGHT OF THE EAGLE (1961), Terence Fisher's THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (1968), Roman Polanski's ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968), Michael Reeves' WITCHFINDER GENERAL (1968), William Friedkin's THE EXORCIST (1973), Robin Hardy's THE WICKER MAN (1973), Richard Donner's THE OMEN (1976) and Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA (1976), all of which deal with diabolism or pagan worship.

It should be noted that Christensen himself gives a memorable performance as Satan, joyfully seducing a wife in bed next to her sleeping husband and gleefully terrorizing a priest during a moment of weakness. Unfortunately, HAXAN is the only film directed by Benjamin Christensen which is widely available today. But, if it is anything to go by, Casper Tybjerg's evaluation of the two movies which he directed prior to HAXAN, namely THE MYSTERIOUS X (1913; aka: ORDERS UNDER SEAL) and BLIND JUSTICE (1916) should dispel the myth that D.W. Griffith claimed the mantle of the first great film director when he made THE BIRTH OF A NATION (1915), although the latter was certainly the first great American film-maker. However the recent apparition of two major Louis Feuillade works, FANTOMAS (1913-14; on a superb two-disc Limited Edition DVD on Region 2) and LES VAMPIRES (1915-16; released by Water Bearer Films through Image Entertainment on Region 1) should go a long way in redressing the facts and giving this unsung, barely remembered master his due. Maybe one day, we will be just as lucky in being provided with the opportunity of evaluating on DVD Benjamin Christensen's work prior to and after HAXAN. At any rate, THE DEVIL'S CIRCUS (1926; with Norma Shearer), MOCKERY (1927; with Lon Chaney), the three films he made with Thelma Todd, THE HAUNTED HOUSE (1928), SEVEN FOOTPRINTS TO Satan (1929) and THE HOUSE OF HORROR (1929) and THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (1929; co-directed with Maurice Tourneur and Lucien Hubbard) should be worth watching if ever they turn up on DVD. I guess there's a pretty slim chance of that ever happening, but who knows in these cases?

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