7.7/10
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78 user 92 critic

Häxan (1922)

Fictionalized documentary showing the evolution of witchcraft, from its pagan roots to its confusion with hysteria in modern Europe.
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Maren Pedersen Maren Pedersen ... Heksen / The Witch
Clara Pontoppidan ... Nonne / Nun
Elith Pio Elith Pio ... Heksedommer / Witch Judge (The Young Monk)
Oscar Stribolt Oscar Stribolt ... Graabroder / Doctor (The Fat Monk)
Tora Teje ... En hysterisk kvinde / Modern Hysteric (The Kelptomaniac)
John Andersen John Andersen ... Chief Inquisitor (as Johs Andersen)
Benjamin Christensen ... Djævlen / The Devil
Poul Reumert Poul Reumert ... Juveler / Jeweler
Karen Winther Karen Winther ... Anna
Kate Fabian Kate Fabian ... Gammel jomfru / Old Maid
Else Vermehren Else Vermehren ... Nonne / Nun
Astrid Holm ... Anna
Johannes Andersen Johannes Andersen ... Heksedommer / Witch Judge
Gerda Madsen Gerda Madsen ... Nonne / Nun
Aage Hertel ... Heksedommer / Witch Judge
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Storyline

Part history lesson followed by re-enactments with actors, this film takes 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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Benjamin Christensens stora film.


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Sweden | Denmark

Language:

Swedish | Danish

Release Date:

27 May 1929 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Häxan See more »

Filming Locations:

Copenhagen, Denmark See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

SEK 2,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (1968 re-release) | (DVD) | (original)

Sound Mix:

Mono | Silent

Color:

Black and White (Sepiatone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Maria, the weaver (one of the persecuted witches) was played by Maren Pedersen, who 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

The kleptomaniac and the jeweler enter through a door on the right-hand side of the room. In the next shot, they are standing on the left side on the room, and the objects on the shelf behind them have changed position. The shot in which they enter is flipped (look closely at the buttons on the actors' clothes). See more »

Quotes

Lovelorn Woman: Karna, can you perchance get me a love potion that has power over a pious man of the church?
Karna - the Witch: Here, young maiden, take a potion of cat feces and dove hearts, boiled during the full moon. A drop of this in a man's drink will soften his heart at once.
Lovelorn Woman: Karna, can i have an even stronger potion?
Karna - the Witch: If the maiden wishes to drive the man out of his wits for love... I have a potion boiled in May from a young and playful male sparrow. Hold your coins, maiden! First smell my ointment! This ointment is good,...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Director Benjamin Christensen personally thanks his cinematographer and art director through the opening titles. See more »

Alternate Versions

Reissued in 1968 with a jazz score featuring and narration by author . See more »

Connections

Referenced in Fantasia (1940) See more »

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User Reviews

A Visually Striking, Thought-Provoking Feature
28 February 2005 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

The striking visuals would in themselves be sufficient reason to watch "Häxan", but in addition it is a thought-provoking feature that combines dark humor, some occasional chilling moments, and perceptive commentary on human nature. It's an unusual package and an unusual feature, and there aren't many films quite like it.

Simply on the surface, the series of unusual visuals and believable recreations of bygone eras would make for interesting viewing. Benjamin Christensen added a strong dose of the macabre to practically every scene, even in some of the smaller details that are only noticeable upon repeat viewings. Some of it is fascinating, some of it unsettling, all of it interesting.

But there is much more to "Häxan" than a mere collection of grotesque images and vignettes. Towards the end, in particular, the commentary becomes quite pointed. It is quite easy for anyone - film-maker, writer, commentator - to criticize and condemn the beliefs and practices of the Middle Ages or of any other long past era. But it is far more of a challenge to, as Christensen has done here, point out the sometimes devastating parallels to one's own era. It is always such a comforting fiction to believe that we are so much more enlightened than past generations have been, and yet it is rarely if ever true.

Christensen aptly illustrates the point that the inability to deal with the odd, the eccentric, and the unusual in our fellow beings is a perennial failing of humanity. Each generation simply devises its own means of stigmatizing and punishing those who cannot conform. (Nor is our own generation markedly better than was Christensen's.) This feature can certainly be viewed (either in the original silent version, or in the 1960s version with some spoken narration) for entertainment value alone. But it is even more pertinent in its observations on human nature. It's an often unsettling movie, with some images that might be bit too uncomfortable for some viewers. But for all that, it's an unusual and worthwhile viewing experience.


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