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Häxan (The Witches)
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Häxan (The Witches)

Description
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. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
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Häxan (The Witches)
CRITICS OF "Häxan (The Witches)"
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Lawrence Journal-World

June 07, 2003

The sophistication of these 1920 special effects are hard to believe
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Time Out
Resource

January 26, 2006

A weird and rather wonderful brew of fiction, documentary and animation based on 15th and 16th century witchcraft trials, Christensen's film has a remarkable visual flair that takes in Bosch, Breughel and Goya.
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Film4
Resource

September 25, 2007

In fact Haxan is a deeply rationalistic piece of humanism, exposing the horrors of superstition and hysteria rather than of witchcraft itself.
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Variety
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May 16, 2008

Swedish and Danish pictures easily hold the palm for morbid realism and in many cases for brilliant acting and production.
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Combustible Celluloid
Resource

May 26, 2006

Begins as a documentary about witches but turns into a real, honest-to-goodness horror film with scary images of witches, devils, evil spells, etc.
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Old School Reviews
Resource

July 12, 2002

Before you think the filmmaker is one sick dude, he also develops scenarios to show how innocent women are deceived and trapped into witch accusations...
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MovieMartyr.com
Resource

March 05, 2002

The film stands as a fascinating historical document, and, more surprisingly, as a thoroughly watchable film.
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Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

August 21, 2002

Fascinating pioneering horror
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Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus
Resource

May 07, 2003

One of the earliest films that takes misogyny and sexual repression as its subject.
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Goatdog's Movies
Resource

February 28, 2002

Viewers who think "silent" films are boring and primitive would do well to start with this one as an example of how advanced they really were.
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Chicago Reader
Resource

August 15, 2007

A silent curiosity made in Denmark in 1922, with an episodic, rhetorical structure that would have appealed to Jean-Luc Godard.
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DVDJournal.com
Resource

April 08, 2006

Ostensibly an exposé of religious persecution born from ignorance of science ... or, when filtered through the bong water of the psychedelic '60s to become Witchcraft Through the Ages, a trippy exercise in surreal pop filmmaking extravagance.
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