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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.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/01/2015
UPC: 0089218768995
Original Release: 1922
Source: Alpha Video
Sound: [silent]

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Witchcraft Through the Ages 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.