Häxan

( 2 )

Overview

Danish filmmaker Benjamin Christensen's obsession with bizarre lighting effects reached its apotheosis with his 1922 masterpiece Häxan. Beginning in a deceptively sedate fashion with a series of woodcuts and engravings a technique later adopted by RKO producer Val Lewton, the film then shifts into gear with a progression of dramatic vignettes, illustrating the awesome power of witchcraft in the Middle Ages. So powerful are some of these images that even some modern viewers will avert their eyes from the screen. ...
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Overview

Danish filmmaker Benjamin Christensen's obsession with bizarre lighting effects reached its apotheosis with his 1922 masterpiece Häxan. Beginning in a deceptively sedate fashion with a series of woodcuts and engravings a technique later adopted by RKO producer Val Lewton, the film then shifts into gear with a progression of dramatic vignettes, illustrating the awesome power of witchcraft in the Middle Ages. So powerful are some of these images that even some modern viewers will avert their eyes from the screen. Though obviously a work of pure imagination, the film occasionally takes on the dimensions of a documentary, a byproduct of the extensive research done by Christensen before embarking on the project incidentally, the director himself can be seen in the film in a dual role as Satan and the Doctor. Häxan marked a parting of the ways for Christensen and the Danish film industry; thereafter, he confined his activities to the German cinema, before answering Hollywood's call in 1928. A separate version of this film exists, with a shorter running time, retitled Witchcraft Through the Ages and released in 1968. It features narration by the legendary Beat writer William S. Burroughs Naked Lunch and a score by Jean-Luc Ponty.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
Häxan is a fictional horror film in the form of a documentary, featuring crude black-and-white cinematography, a nonlinear structure, and grotesque imagery. If this reminds you of The Blair Witch Project (1999), it's no coincidence -- the makers of that film named their production company "Haxan" as a tribute to Benjamin Christensen's film. Häxan's inconsistent production values and rough visual motifs enhance its effectiveness, adding a sheen of authenticity to the film's passively voyeuristic approach. Multiple versions exist, including sound releases in the 1940s and 1960s. The latter features narration by Beat generation icon William S. Burroughs, though his interesting commentary is somewhat offset by a distracting and inappropriate modern jazz score. Despite censors' efforts to ban it, Häxan was a persistent influence on 20th century filmmakers, in particular on the works of Val Lewton.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/29/2012
  • UPC: 842614103315
  • Original Release: 1922
  • Source: Grapevine Video
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 39,076

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Benjamin Christensen Doctor, Satan
Clara Pontoppidan Nun
Astrid Holm Anna
Oscar Stribolt A Doctor
Maren Pedersen Witch
William S. Burroughs
Gerda Madsen Nun
Elith Pio Young Monk
Tora Teje Modern hysteric
Technical Credits
Benjamin Christensen Director, Screenwriter
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2010

    A film centuries ahead of its time!

    Almost every special effect known to man had its birth somewhere in this film, but unlike today, there was also a philosophical underpinning and a great understanding of when man does to man and what men do to women.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Pioneering Silent Film Docu-Drama

    Unlike other silent horror/fantasy films which are based novels,folklore or original screenplays, this film was made as a documentary about the withcraft mania in western Europe.Costumed renenactments & dramatizations of witch lore, black sabbaths,& witchcraft trials are portrayed based upon medieval paintings, woodcuts, and literature. There are many unforgettable & nightmarish images rendered quite artistically. The Director appears as the Devil himself. Haxan is a fascinating interpretation of the witch phenomenon and is a must see & must have for the serious film scholar, social scientist, or student of the occult.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews