Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages


 (1922) *****

Witches, witchcraft, and demonology are the perfect basis to making a good horror flick, but the brutal reality is much more disturbing. What a cool film, Häxan, by Danish filmmaker Benjamin Christensen is the fact behind the myth and done with such finesse. Both documentary and fiction, the film is an informative and entertaining breakdown of witchcraft throughout the ages, well, up until 1922 anyway.

 The film is divided up into several chapters, the first of which contains several still shots of ancient art and explanations of the beliefs that went along with it. The following chapters are reenactments of some of these practices and the inevitable consequences that resulted. The film finally wraps up with a comparison to modern times including misdiagnosis and treatment of hysteria, which suggests that our barbaric roots were still very much alive and well in the modern medical industry at that time.


Häxan is unique and highly impressive considering the limited equipment of the day. In watching I could clearly imagine the influence this single film has had in the motion picture industry over decades. The stories are compelling, the acting superb and quite shocking considering the era it was filmed. I’ve never seen a film quite like it, truly a shame that the controversy surrounding it’s content resulted in heavy censorship and even banning of the film altogether. 


On a side note, I am proud to add Häxan’s devil to the list in my sub, sub-genre of finding tongue wagging in films. Although the “bleheleleleleleh” sound is missing it is fully excusable since the film is silent.

9 comments:

AC said...

wow, great find!

Octopunk said...

Excellent find! Looks pretty saucy, too. You've got a naked chick lying in the grass and it looks like that devil is about to get some hot monk action.

I haven't seen that many of them but I love movies from the early decades of filmmaking.

"Bleheleleleleleh" seems like the right way to spell that.

Landshark said...

Another classic catfreek rare gem find! This sounds really cool. I like the bit about misdiagnosis of hysteria. A few years ago, I directed a senior thesis on vampirism in literature, and the student was looking at how TB might have factored into how that mythic villian/disease evolved over the centuries.

Catfreeek said...

I wish I could take credit for the find but JSP insisted that I watch this.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

And as much as I'd like to take the credit it was actually a Crystal Math discovery. I'm glad you watched this one Catfreeek. Did you watch it with or without the commentary?

Catfreeek said...

Both, I watched without first so I could see it as it was meant to be then with because it was interesting.

DCD said...

Sounds fascinating! Were you able to get it through Netflix?

JPX said...

Wow, what a wonderful and interesting discovery!

Catfreeek said...

Yup and both versions are on the same disc.