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

1929

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

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88%

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Total Count: 16

81%

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User Ratings: 4,370
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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 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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Critic Reviews for Häxan (Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages) (The Witches)

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

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

  • Feb 06, 2017
    Probably the earliest documentary from Sweden, Haxan is a dramatic retelling of the witch hunt throughout the ages, with some fictional and horror elements blended in. It's short and succinct, the special effects and costumes were great too, very enjoyable.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Apr 26, 2015
    Massively influential to modern filmmakers, Witchcraft Through the Ages narrates a religious view on the theme and belief in witchcraft, satanic arts and other dark and frightening things. Interestingly, the interpretation of the devil and witches isn't what I found to be most frightening, it was the bizarre editing and incredibly basic animation efforts, as if alot of it were made in somebody's basment, making it one of the most visceral and unpolished films I have ever seen. Terrifying to watch not just because its a documentary about Satan, but also because of the convincingly tense and dramatic pacing of the film and an impending sense of doom that the creaters assumingly intended to be experienced. Not perfect, but worth a watch if the themes interest you.
    Harry W Super Reviewer
  • Feb 15, 2013
    Haxan, which dates back to 1929 is a phenomenal entertaining horror of the time. Based on mysticism, witchcraft, and Satan, this menacing treat is a must watch. It is one of the most entertaining and imaginative pieces of the period. With quite a few laughs through out, and a great score, it's hard to ignore the uniqueness that lies in, Haxan. 3.5 stars ++
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Mar 29, 2012
    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.
    Devon B Super Reviewer

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