Part history lesson followed by re-enactments with actors, this film 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
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 »
The same witches fly past the screen several times. At certain points, the same witch appears on screen twice at the same time. See more »
Listen, Maria the Weaver, did you also see the devil put his mark on the witches' foreheads?
Marie, the Seamstress:
Oh, learned men, I saw the witches kiss the evil one on his behind. And the mother of Anna, the printer's wife, wished me a scalding death - that damned woman, I saw her kissing the evil one so tenderly...
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This film gives us a thoughtful look at the horrifying potential of fear, ignorance and superstition. I have to say I admire the courage Benjamin Christensen showed in making this film which not only must have offended the sensibilities of the time for the obvious reasons but also because it dared to champion reason over superstition as a way of explaining things which we do not fully understand. This film resonates with its message that those who judged others unjust may not have been just themselves.
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