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Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (The Witches) (Haxan)

Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (The Witches) (Haxan) (1929)


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Critic Reviews: 3
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 0



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Movie Info

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



Oct 16, 2001

International Telefilm Enterprises

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All Critics (16) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (2) | DVD (15)

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

May 16, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

August 15, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

September 25, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4

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.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

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.

April 8, 2006 Full Review Source:

The sophistication of these 1920 special effects are hard to believe

June 7, 2003
Lawrence Journal-World

One of the earliest films that takes misogyny and sexual repression as its subject.

May 7, 2003 Full Review Source: Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus
Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus

Fascinating pioneering horror

August 21, 2002
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

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...

July 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews

The film stands as a fascinating historical document, and, more surprisingly, as a thoroughly watchable film.

March 5, 2002 Full Review Source:

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.

February 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

Benjamin Christensen's pioneering look at ancient Scandinavian witchcraft is impressive and genuinely disturbing.

February 7, 2002 Full Review Source:

Its view of witchcraft seems dated (especially compared to the new graphic-novel treatment of Jack the Ripper in theaters). In fact, Haxan seems almost quaint, which I donâ(TM)t think was the directorâ(TM)s intent.

November 11, 2001 Full Review Source: Movie Habit | Comment (1)
Movie Habit

A truly unique work that still holds the power to unnerve even in today's jaded era.

October 16, 2001 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Audience Reviews for Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (The Witches) (Haxan)

An absolute joy from beginning to end. Benjamin Christensen's obsession is clear and thanks to his pioneering techniques and charm, he soon captivates and hypnotists the viewer into following him. Comparing this to other great silent films of the time, particularly the horrors, and I'd have to say this is by far the most professional and frightening. It may start of like a ye olde powerpoint presentation but you'll be hooked in no time. The techniques used are incredible, even by today's standards and some of the films social messages are valid today. A Gothic classic.
November 8, 2013

Super Reviewer

(1968 version)
August 22, 2013

Super Reviewer

Writer and director Benjamin Christensen paints a meticulous picture of witchcraft through the ages in his film (titled fittingly enough), "Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages". Part documentary-style narration, part dramatic "passion play", Haxan toys with the idea of a real satan (played by Christensen himself) tempting virtuous people away from their holy christian lifestyles. Witchcraft is seen as the power one acquires from consorting with the devil, and various abilities, such as flying and casting spells are gained from worshipping the dark lord (and 'literally' kissing his ass). Eerie, sometimes shocking, sometimes horrific, Christensen uses light and shadow to his advantage, creating a dark fantasy world made real through the eyes of superstitious and backwards medieval folk. And really, far from glorifying belief in the supernatural, Haxan tells with great sadness the tale of mankinds brutality and mindless terror of the unknown. It's more a warning tale than anything. When we put our faith in supernatural superstitions, we sacrifice scientific knowledge and the analytical process, cutting out anything we've learned from the past. Those who put faith above all else will deny reality if it conflicts with their beliefs. Mankind can revert to the stone age at any time. In order to move forward as a species we must discern with an unflinching eye what is reality and what is fact. To do otherwise is to doom ourselves to the dark ages. Haxan is positively haunting in the spell it weaves.
March 29, 2012
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

One of the first horror films, this silent masterpiece still has the ability to shock and entertain today's audience.
October 27, 2011
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

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