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View All Häxan (Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages) (The Witches) News
All Critics (16)
| Top Critics (3)
| Fresh (14)
| Rotten (2)
| DVD (8)
Swedish and Danish pictures easily hold the palm for morbid realism and in many cases for brilliant acting and production.
A silent curiosity made in Denmark in 1922, with an episodic, rhetorical structure that would have appealed to Jean-Luc Godard.
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.
In fact Haxan is a deeply rationalistic piece of humanism, exposing the horrors of superstition and hysteria rather than of witchcraft itself.
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.
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.
The sophistication of these 1920 special effects are hard to believe
One of the earliest films that takes misogyny and sexual repression as its subject.
Fascinating pioneering horror
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...
The film stands as a fascinating historical document, and, more surprisingly, as a thoroughly watchable film.
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.
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.
One of the first horror films, this silent masterpiece still has the ability to shock and entertain today's audience.
There were some things I liked about this movie, but there were also things I didn't like. First I didn't like the documentary style history lessons. The movie would have been a lot better with just the stories and actors acting them out and everything. There were some nice visuals, and I really liked that. But overall, I thought it could have been better.
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