Benjamin Christensen – Häxan (1922)


“Danish filmmaker Benjamin Christensen’s obsession with bizarre lighting effects reached its apotheosis with his 1920 masterpiece Witchcraft Through the Ages. 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) Also known as Haxan, Witchcraft Through the Ages 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.” — Hal Erickson (allmovieguide)

no pass

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