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

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




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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 … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Horror
Directed By:
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 16, 2001
International Telefilm Enterprises


as Doctor, Satan

as Young Monk

as Modern hysteric
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Critic Reviews for Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (The Witches) (Haxan)

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (3)

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

Full Review… | May 16, 2008
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | August 15, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top 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.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | September 25, 2007

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.

Full Review… | May 26, 2006
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.

Full Review… | April 8, 2006

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

(1968 version)

vieras esine

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.

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.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

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